A Song Behind The Plow

Protecting The Legacy of North Carolina’s History & Genealogy

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The fate of history and family lineage dwells within the people of the region. It’s the people of an area that restores and strives to pass on the treasures of history and genealogy from one generation to another. North Carolina has been transformed out of a wilderness filled with nature and wonder to the more modernized domain that we all know very well today. To those who seek the historical facts, filled with dates, incidents, paper documents, etc. the course is set to prove this incident happened here and on this day at this time. To those who seek a more personal experience travel a slightly different path. This path allows the ability to capture emotions and feelings that pertains to the historical story. This tradition is as old as North Carolina’s history itself. The art of storytelling dates back to the beginning. Regardless of your personal beliefs, the communication trend from one generation to another initially originated through verbal vocabulary. The story would allow the plot, a climax and a setting to demonstrate and capture feelings in order for those listening to remember the details and know their history.

Discovering your personal family tree is rewarding in itself due to the challenges that are a given when it comes to research. Preserving the data is just as rewarding and greatly cherished for generations to come. More and more hobby genealogists are swept away with the research and put off till tomorrow the thoughts of preserving the information they have already gained. This segment discusses the processes that pertain to the immortality of your work and learning how to research a more pleasurable and personal path with history and genealogy.

A Researcher Must Enjoy The Task Or Risk The Mistake Of Missing The Past

The historical genealogist has a job before them and the job should be met with dedication, commitment and a promise to themselves. Not all researchers seek a complete knowledge of lineage but an objective goal should be set for each person, or group or family members involved with the project. The most important rule reveals the enjoyment of the task. This relates to the title of this segment, The Song Behind The Plow. You need to enjoy your work, just as the farmers of long ago had to find a way to enjoy plowing the fields. When the research is overwhelming or you become frustrated, take a break from it for awhile.

Family Bible

Preservation means action taken to prevent deterioration. The following outline gives tips on how you can preserve your family history.

  • Storing Family Pedigree
  1. Never store you pedigree online ONLY!! Having an online tree is important and a great tool to share with others, but always have a backup tree on a genealogy gedcom software program. Whichever program you chose, create a backup source just in case the program fails at some point.
  2. Store a hard copy of your tree on acid free paper in a protective secure location. If you have future plans for your research, this tip can be very valuable for publishing, donating, gifting, etc.
  • Storing Photographs, Family Heirlooms, Books
  1. Photographs-Store your negatives in a dark dry area and separate each negative. You can also contact your local library or historical society for more guidelines on restoring photographs and preserving them.
  2. Family Heirlooms-Keep an inventory of your heirlooms for insurance purposes and take photos as well. Have items appraised if needed.
  3. Family Bibles and Books-I highly recommend contacting your local library for preserving books in your local area. Each climate is somewhat different and assorted rules apply when preserving these items.

horse and plow

Storytelling combined with genealogy and history is a way of passing on your information to the future. There are many different ways in doing this, such as donating your gedcom to a local historical society or library. You can also consider donating your material to the state level, North Carolina State Archives or the National Archives. Either choice you make preserves your genealogy work for future researchers.

To begin your research off of the regular path, you have to create a starting point. An example of this from my own personal records is as follows:

Joshua G Motsinger(1837-1865) Joshua was born in Davidson County, NC to the parents of Felix Motsinger(1783-1872) and Christina Laughenour Motsinger(1793-1883). I traveled to the area of the family farm located on present day Concrete Works Road. The information was translated from the land deed and local citizens of the area. The original house was still standing and additions had been made to it around 1920 per conversations with local residents. Interviews and church records revealed more details on the family during the Civil War. Joshua worked in the mines located near present day High Point. He was never involved with combat but was able to provide for his family of two children and his wife, Elizabeth Smith Motsinger(1841-1905) all during the war years. This information was located with the Civil War Widow’s pension of 1901 and Civil War mine records located at the state archives and county records. The 1901 pension records are usually 5 to 10 pages in length and if you obtain a copy, you will find out many more details about the veteran and the widow’s family. The land was part of the original tract that Felix Motsinger(1727-1791) purchased back in 1763 and family members inherited the property all through the years. To read more about this family in a story format click on the following link, Shadows On The Heart.

As you can see, I have been able to locate a great deal of information about this family which allows everyone to personally experience the joys and sorrows they endured during their lives. This journey allowed me to visit the actual farmland, trace back to church records and much more. Only a few of these records existed online, the majority of the records were located in libraries, county archives of both Rowan and Davidson counties and with church members who stored records. Many personal interviews were conducted with older members of the family and knowledge was also obtained from the Southern Moravian Archives and local newspapers within the area. If you are unable to travel and visit the research area, writing to the local historical societies and libraries will guide you in the correct direction.

family tree

No matter how you decide to store or share your pedigree, always know that your family tree is magnificent. Be proud of your discoveries and cherish your journey as you conduct the research. Wishing you all a great adventure while you discover the history and genealogy of North Carolina.

 

Shadows On The Heart

The life story of Elizabeth Smith Motsinger(1841-1905).

Elizabeth Smith was born in Davidson County, NC to John Smith and Elizabeth Gibbons Smith on September 6, 1841. Her first 3 years were filled with daily routines and new surprises as she was learning her world. But, fate would leave her brokenhearted on a summer day. During the year of 1844, her first loss was felt with the thundering shudder of her mother’s death in September. Elizabeth Gibbons Smith was buried in Friedland Moravian Church Cemetery on the 18th, just 12 days after her little daughter, Elizabeth celebrated her 3rd birthday. Two years later in 1846, her father, John remarried and now Elizabeth had a new step-mother, Mary. It is not known if Elizabeth attended school, but she did know how to read and write as she proved this later in life on documents.

Elizabeth Gibbins

Elizabeth Gibbons Smith Gravesite

Elizabeth continued to live with her family in Davidson County, NC taking care of her chores and daily tasks around the farm. At the age of 15, the love of her life was introduced as Joshua G Motsinger of Abbotts Creek area. Exactly 30 days after her 16th birthday, they were married. October 6, 1860 was met with the leaves just beginning to change for the season and fellow neighbors gathering in the summer’s harvest, Elizabeth became Mrs. Motsinger.  She moved from her family home to Abbotts Creek and moved in with Joshua’s parents, Felix and Christina Motsinger. They began their life together just as the screams of war were approaching. The year of 1861 was met with joy and sorrow with the onset of the Civil War in the spring and the birth of their firstborn, Felix Wesley Motsinger soon after. The war brought forth new problems that threatened their new world as Joshua traveled to High Point and Greensboro to work in the Guilford Mines for the war effort and to support his new family.

lantern

During the next few years, Joshua would travel back and forth on the train and reach home as often as he could. Elizabeth gave birth to her daughter in August of 1862 whom she named Julia Ann after her sister-in-law. Elizabeth continued to live with Joshua’s family and became very close to them all, especially her sister-in-law, Juliann. Joshua continued to be away for long periods of time working in the mines for the Confederacy during the years of 1863 and 1864, but he did manage to begin the construction of a new home next door to his parents. Juliann, Joshua’s oldest sister, moved in the new house and stayed with Elizabeth to help her with the small children. In the year of 1865, Elizabeth was pregnant once again and the war was finally coming to an end. But tragedy would hover over the new house and change Elizabeth’s world forever. The love of her life, Joshua died just 2 days after their 5th wedding anniversary on October 8, 1865. He was buried at Bethany Baptist Church near their home on the 9th of October. Elizabeth was 9 months pregnant at the time of the service. Filled with grief and her unborn child, what would life be for her now?

maternity-gowns-maternity-clothing

Maternity Dress circa 1865

Labor pains and grief were felt on October the 14th, just 6 days after burying her husband, Elizabeth gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She named him John Louis Motsinger. Aunt Juliann never left the little family and continued to live with Elizabeth until her death. Felix and Christina, Joshua’s parents, took care of their grandchildren and Elizabeth until their deaths. Elizabeth never remarried.

Joshua G Motsinger tombstone

Joshua G Motsinger Gravesite

The children attended school nearby and life carried on along the banks of Abbotts Creek. Elizabeth began making plans for the little family.  Her brother and sisters had moved into Forsyth County and wrote her letters stating that life was much easier near the bigger city of Salem. Elizabeth set her sight on Kernersville just a day’s trip away from their home. Juliann acquired money from her father’s estate and purchased land northwest of the little town. Elizabeth was waiting on the 21st birthday of her son Felix and her plans would be fulfilled with him acquiring the tract of land. As the years slowly drifted by, Elizabeth gave her consent for her daughter, Julia Ann to marry her love, Solomon Tesh. Julia was 16 when the wedding took place on October 14, 1877. Julia and Solomon continued to live with Elizabeth until 1882 when she moved to Greensboro, NC. Life seemed content for Elizabeth during this time and preparations were being made to move the family in the spring of 1881.  But, the black cloud once again brought down the heavy rains and Elizabeth knew too well this feeling of loss. Her son, Felix was visiting Salem in January of 1881 just months before his 21st birthday. He was in an accident and killed on the 7th. It took 3 days to bring Felix Wesley’s body home for burial and on January 11, 1881, he was buried near his father, Joshua.

mourning dress

Mourning Dress circa 1880

Elizabeth found herself in mourning once again and she knew that the family’s plans of moving would not happen now. She exchanged letters with her daughter and friends in the area. Elizabeth and Aunt Juliann operated the farm and took care of Grandma Christina who was very frail now and near death. Soon, both Joshua’s parents would be gone and the farm was growing even smaller. John Louis was now at the age of helping more on the farm, but Elizabeth made sure he still attended school regularly. At the age of 20, John Louis, Elizabeth’s youngest son, became the head of the household, informing his peers that his real age was 21. Soon, preparations were once again being made for the little family to move to Kernersville, NC. The wagon was loaded one spring day and Aunt Juliann accompanied Elizabeth and John on the trip. They arrived on the property and stayed in the one-room cabin previously built by former owners. Juliann sold the property to John Louis Motsinger in May of 1885. John began work on building the house that stands today. Elizabeth traveled with her son, John to Winston Courthouse, county seat of Forsyth County in July of 1901. There she filled out a Widow’s Application for Pension through the service of her husband, Joshua Motsinger. It was approved and Elizabeth was granted $30.00. She became ill during the autumn of 1905 and on Christmas Eve, she fell asleep forever. Elizabeth was buried at the new church, Piney Grove Methodist and her son, John purchased a tombstone for the grave. Pictured below are pictures of her son, John Louis Motsinger and the house he built when they moved to Kernersville.

John Louis Motsinger

John Louis Motsinger, his wife, Mary Elizabeth Dean Motsinger and their only son, Lewis Addison Motsinger

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John Louis Motsinger and the house he built in Kernersville. Elizabeth lived in this house until her death on Christmas Eve, 1905.

Hans Jacob Matzinger(Abt. 1698-Aft. 1766)

The Voyage

If you have the surname Motsinger in your family tree, chances are you know about the immigrant, Hans Jacob Matzinger. In this blog, I’ll be sharing some facts that you may already know and some facts that just may surprise you. Jacob was born in Marthalen, Switzerland and was baptized in the year of 1698. Jacob married Margaretha Fissler, daughter of Hans Conrad Fissler and continued to live in the area until the year of 1734. Margaretha died in January of 1734 and when autumn arrived, Jacob and his young son, Felix, left the village. It was October of 1734 when Jacob and Felix departed with several other families, including the Goetschy family who were widely known around the region. The history of the Goetschy family dates back to 1315 in Zurich when Henry Goetschy was mayor of the city. A blog about this family will be posted here at a later date. When Jacob and his son were traveling the 300 miles to reach Rotterdam, the citizens of the villages along the way scorned and laughed at them and their fellow travelers. It was crazy, thought by many, to leave your homeland in search of the unknown so late in the season. Jacob reached the Rhine River on October 5, 1734 and boarded a ship with his son. They left Basle and began traveling towards Rotterdam. This phase of the trip, mainly over water, was harsh, cold and filled with rain showers. Families were not allowed to cook on the ships, so when the chance arrived to head ashore, families jumped at the opportunity in order to cook, warm themselves and dry their wet clothing. Small children were often heard crying due to the overwhelming conditions of the weather and the hunger. Some citizens helped the travelers along their journey, either by feeding them or providing them clothing, etc. Goetschy promised the group, that Carolina was the destination and since he was a reformed religious minister, they would surely prosper with their travels and new settlement. When they arrived in Neuwied, 4 couples were married. These were the only couples married on the trip and they are documented as the following: Hans Conrad Wirtz to Anna Goetschy; Conrad Naff to Anna N.; Jacob Rathgeb to Barbara Haller and Conrad Geweiller to unknown. Some researchers have claimed that Jacob married Magdelena Mantz while traveling in 1734. But, I have not found any proof that Jacob ever married again after his wife, Margaretha died in 1734. In fact, I have found proof that Jacob was still single in the year of 1740 in Pennsylvania after donating his labor to the building of a church and school . The early documents listed him as single Jacob Matzinger.(Personal documents obtained from Heidelberg Historical Society, Pennsylvania)

When the group was just outside of Rotterdam, several small children fell overboard, but according to several documents, all were saved. Upon arrival in Rotterdam, they learned that the ships were no longer docked and the trip came to a quick halt until other arrangements could be worked out.  The captain of the ship that brought them to Rotterdam requested the passengers to unload their belongings quickly as he had to return to Basle. So the cargo was unloaded on the bank of the river in one huge heap.(page 102, History of the Goshenhoppen Reformed Charge by William John Hinke) Several months would go by with some of the travelers staying in an inn, others camping outside along the banks of the Rhine and many suffering from sickness and lack of food. It is documented that 2 died during this time and several others left the group to return to their homes. During this time, Goetschy was attempting passage for his weary travelers and was able to connect to Friess in Zurich and arrange for passage upon the ship Mercury to Pennsylvania in order to accommodate several churches in the Great Swamp area. The Mercury set sail in late February of 1735 for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There were several families who were unwilling to change their destination from Carolina to Pennsylvania, but Jacob was not one of them. He and 8 year old Felix boarded the ship to cross the Atlantic. The ship was mastered by Captain William Wilson and arrived in Philadelphia on May 29, 1735. The good weather lasted only 2 days after the ship set sail and for 12 weeks, the ship and it’s passengers endured heavy downpours of rain, wind and high waves. Galley bread was the last of the food near the end of the trip and the only water available was muddy and filled with worms. When they arrived at the Delaware River, the ship was halted for an additional 3 days due to the lack of wind needed to push them onward to Philadelphia. But, as we all know, the Mercury did indeed arrive at port and unloaded it’s passengers and cargo.

This is just a small portion of Jacob Matzinger’s life and experiences. As you can imagine, the trip to the “New World” was quite an adventure in itself. Why did Jacob leave his homeland? Some genealogists have stated that Jacob had at least 3 other sons all of whom died prior to his wife dying in 1734. Could this be the reason why Jacob seeked new surroundings? The total length of time between his departure in October of 1734 and arrival in May of 1735 was 7 months. That is a long time to travel with a young boy of 8. As for me, I’m so glad Jacob decided to take that chance and allowed the family of Matzinger to thrive here in the “New World”.