Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

Emanuel and Sophia Deyer  This picture is too large to insert all the way into a post here, but if you click on it, you’ll see Emanuel Deyer and his wife, Sophia.  Emanuel was the third generation of my father’s family in this country: he was the son of John Dyer, and the grandson of Hans Georg Dyer (originally spelled Dirr) who sailed to Philadelphia on the good ship Dragon from the Palatine section of what is now Germany on Sept. 30, 1732.

The family settled in and around Manheim, Pennsylvania – traditional Pennsylvania Dutch country, and I heard lots of those stories growing up.

I had long assumed our ancestors must be farmers or in some way connected with agriculture, but on a trip nearly a decade ago back to Manheim to search for my roots, I found out differently.  Most of them seemed to be in business of one kind of another; a hardware store still running in Manheim today, Longenecker’s, was originally founded by Jacob and John Dyer in 1857.  They would have been Emanuel’s grandsons.

Many generations of our family have  fought in the wars of this country.  Emanuel is especially remembered on a memorial plaque outside St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Manheim. as a veteran of the Revolutionary War.  Born in 1760, he would have been a mere 16 years old at the beginning of the war.  Memorial plaque

If you look closely on this plaque, you’ll see his name at the bottom, centered.  If you keep looking, you’ll see Sophia’s name and their daughter Elizabeth’s name as well.  There is a Jacob Deyer, too, and we wonder if he was the infant they lost.

Why do I write about Emanuel today?  Because he and so many who served with him – and the generations since – are in some danger of being forgotten.  Emanuel is buried somewhere behind the church, in a graveyard that, in 1948 or so, got paved over into a parking lot.  His tombstone, along with Sophia’s and Elizabeth’s and several others, leans against a wall in the basement of the church.  Tombstones in the church basement

I am long remiss in not re-contacting the church to find out if something can be done.  But for now, I can write; for now, I can help us all remember.

Our generations included people who fought on both sides in the Civil War; in the Mexican-American War; in World War II; in the Viet Nam War, serving in Thailand; and in the Gulf, twice.  We are incredibly lucky that we do not seem to have lost many of our family members in war; we are incredibly lucky that some of our forebears took the time to preserve the chronology, the drawings, the photographs, and some letters and legal documents.  I always thought it was the luck of the draw that I happened to be born in the U.S.A., with a degree of freedom that I may not have known anyplace else.

Looking at the list of ancestors, I no longer think it was luck.  I think they worked their tails off to ensure that what my family so enjoys today will continue for centuries to come.

So thank you, Emanuel.  You were one of the first.  You made a difference, and we will remember.

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