My father's Weiss (Wise) ancestors
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Jacob Weiss Family



Mary Anne Weiss, who married John B. Dehart about 1861 or 1862,
in Dauphin County, was the daughter of Jacob Weiss/ Wise, and
Joanna or Johanna Susanna.  They probably married in Highspire,
since the 1850 Federal Census 1875 property map of Highspire
shows both families lived there. (John Dehart lived in the
northwestern part of Highspire near the brewery.)

Jacob Weiss, according to a family story told my father by 
Aunt Irma, wove rugson his loom while
he worked as a ticket agent at the Highspire railway station.
This is confirmed by 1880 census, which lists him as a retired
carpet weaver.  

From the 1850 census and Jacob's and Joanna's grave stones in the
Highspire Cemetery:

Jacob Weiss b Mar 3 1802, Switzerland.  d May 30 1887, Highspire.
In 1850 he lived in Highspire, was a weaver, and owned $400 worth
of property.  This was a good deal of property, according to the
person who looked him up in the census and found him in the grave
list for Highspire Cemetery.  Probably this is the five city lots
the 1875 property map of Dauphin County shows that he owned on
the railroad tracks, a block or so from the railroad station!  I
believe that this track and station were not built until the
1840's; Jacob may have owned it before he allowed or sold rights
to the railroad company! This property probably was part of 
houses behind the railway station where employees lived, 
railroad owned (not nec true in Jacob's day) tht wre torn down
after flooding in the 1960's.  Between Front and Water STreets;
Jacob's land took up the whole block, = 5 lots. Next block had
2 homes and the railroad station.   The railroad ran right
through it! 

Despite having two children allegedly born before 1840, or else
the eldest born in 1840, in Pennsylvania, this supported by 
them being given common English names, Jacob Weiss is not shown
in 1840 census index as in Dauphin Co.  

Joanna/ Johanna Susanna, b Apr 30 1809, Germany. Died Oct 3 1875,
Highspire.

Jacob's and Johanna's graves both read "our mother", and "our
father", indicating more than one Weiss child was around to bury
them!

Children in the 1850 census: (More may have been born after the
census enumeration in 1850. Ages were not listed correctly; 
Jacob's calculated birth date based on his rptd age of 44 is 1806,
and Mary Anne is known to have been b 1841, 1842, or 1843.

Sarah Elizabeth, 15, b PA, attending school (b around 1835).
Harriet C., 12, b PA, attending school (b around 1833)
Mary Ann, 10, b PA, attending school (b around 1840)
Barbara Anna, 7, b PA, attending school (b around 1843)
Amanda R., 4, b PA.  (b around 1846)
Jason, 1, b PA.  (b around 1849).  

Jason probably did not live as he is not in the family in the 
1860 census, when he would have been only 11.  Hard to tell who 
died, who had married by that time unless they were too young.

Sarah married George H. Conklin and lived with him in Steelton
in 1880 census.  He was a laborer in 1880 and an engineer
in 1897-90 Harrisburg area directory, when he lived at 515 N. Front St, AND Jefferson and Front, and Front near Jefferson. He
was 41 in 1880 census, and Sarah was 40 despite haveing been 15 
in 1835.

Their children on 1880 census;

John J. Conklin  W M 14 son in 1897-1900 lived 354 S. Front, laborer
William W M 9 son in 1897-1900 a butcher, lived variously at
   515 N Front and 328 N Front
Daniel M. W M 7 son in 1899-1900 an oiler, at 515 N. Front.
Perley W F 8 son (that's what it says)
Lusky W M 2 son
Jacob Wise age 88, father, lived with them.  Both parents born in 
Switzerland as well as Jacob himself.  retired carpet weaver. 

The Highspire Cemetery grave list indicates that the broken down
and, according to my source, unreadable, little grave next to
Jacob's and Joanna's and clearly belonging to the same grave lot,
belongs to "Barbara Ann Johnson, daughter
of Jacob, b 13 Dec 1813 d 25 Mar 1851." If this is even correct,
it is an enigma who this is.  Jacob and Joanna had a daughter
Barbara Ann living in 1850, not born anything resembling 1813.
Barbara Ann could be a sibling of Jacob or Joanna, born to father
Jacob, possibly with the name Johanson or something similar 
anglicized to Johnson, just as the Weiss family anglicized their
names. Then Jacob and Johanna would have named their daughter
after this female close relative.


Family think Jacob Weiss and family were Brethren or else went
to a radically Evangelical church in the area.  Jacob may have
been of Swiss Mennonnite/ Anabaptist background; they became the
Swiss Brethren, and one or two radically Evangelical offshoots of
that Brethren sect had churches near Highspire.  Mary Weiss'
picture indicates that one of her parents had ancestry not from
Switzerland or Germany; she had a dark complexion and partially
Asiatic, classically Indo-Aryan features. She is the source of
the squinty eyes that run in my family, and her daughter my
great grandmother looked even more Asiatic than she did.
People of Mennonite and Anabaptist background ended up in
Switzerland and neighboring Alsace from points quite far removed,
including a substantial number from Russia.  There were also
"Black Dutch", and people from southern France and Italy, and
Spain.

Something was odd about this family; they anglicized their names.
Gave atleast half of their children distinctively American names.
This was unusual among Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants from Germany
at that time. Usually they took great pride in identifying as
German, and gave their children old country names of close
relatives.   

Jacob Weiss also seems to have shared the Dehart manic energy
level and clear tendency to work two jobs at once.  The Deharts,
once early settlers of huge farms near Reading, combined farming
full time with weaving full time, and building and running mills,
and moonlit in their spare time as full time factory laborers.
John Dehart's grandfather managed to own half the real estate in
Reading, in addition. The family had large amounts of hidden
wealth.  But they were always known as millwrights and factory 
laborers.  John Dehart, according to his family, was a laborer
in the Highspire Brewery!  Yup, he retired to a large house in
Reading where he had a garden and an orchard in the back yard in
front of the carriage house that was rented out as a candy factory,
and his grandson John B Dehart who died in 1995, unmarried and
with no will, and "worked for the phone company", left about
a million dollars!

The Berks Co Deharts descended from Cornelius, and including
Cornelius, were very prosperous farmers who owned alot of 
property. Cornelius' son John Dehart who married a Weidner
was like most of Cornelius sons a weaver as well as a farmer, 
and hugely successful.
He went with a group of weavers to Philadelphia and bought or
rented two large mansions across the street from the governor's
mansion. He may have overextended himself as his weaving 
business declined considerably in stature from that point. One
wonders what ailed both his ego and his judgement.  He returned
to Berks County, though seemingly not doing too well, but it is 
his son John who with his descendants were so independently 
wealthy.

Nearly ALL of the male descendants of John Dehart and Mary Weiss
died
of cancer, which does not mean cancer ran in the family, though
it might since the Burkharts had a propensity to it in the early
19th century.  Nearly all of teh male descendants of John Dehart
and Mary Weiss smoked and drank very heavily! This is often the
result of some undiagnosed mental illness. In pictures, most
male Deharts and some female ones look as if something was 
emotionally wrong; one guy looks shy and withdrawn, has his face
bowed and hidden to have his picture taken, the others have that
too-gregarious look one often sees on people with serious 
emotional problems. Also, a high proportion of John Dehart's
male descendants did not marry.  (Both men and women who did
marry have had about an even liklihood of having no children.) 

These people are definitely in the running for one of the sources
for my gene for manic depression. 

 



On the other side of Joanna's and Jacob's graves, tellingly, is a
slew of Dehart graves. All of them are identified on grave list
as the children of John Dehart and Mary. I don't know if that was
written on each and every tombstone, or assumed by teh local
historian/ genealogist who transcribed and published the list of
graves.  My father must have been correct in thinking that John
Dehart and Mary Weiss had a son Gilbert not named on the
supposedly comprehensive list of children including one who died,
of John and Mary Dehart, on the family chart compiled to settle
the estate of John B Dehart the grandson of John Dehart and Mary.
Some people buried in these graves must have been other relatives
of John and Mary, and not their children.  Others may have been
their children.

Annie F.  b 7 Sep 1892 d 23 Mar 1900 7/8/16 whatever that means.
Charlie d 23 Dec 1871 18 years. (b abt 1853, eight years or so
   before John and Mary married). I do not think he was a brother
   John Dehart. There were several other Deharts in the area;
   to have been buried with John Dehart's children who failed
   to survive childhood, he must have been closely related to
   him.   A recipe for
   sand tarts that bears the name of "From Jan Dehart" came down
   from one of John Dehart's daughters; maybe she belonged to
   whoever Charlie belonged to!  Noone knows who she was. 
   Obviously she was exchanging recipes with John Dehart's
   family! She is more likely to have married a Dehart than to
   have been born one since usually it is housewives who 
   exchange recipes.   
Bessie P. d 24 Dec 18___.  This girl is the child identified on
   the John Dehart estate chart who did not live.
Gilbert d 29 Oct 1884 4 months (worn stone). 

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