Jacobs Ancestors in York County, Pennsylvania

I’m Jonathan Scott Beacher, a 2nd great-grandson of William James Jacobs Sr. who was born 3 July 1812 in York county, Pennsylvania, and died 17 October 1902 in Shenandoah, Schuylkill county.

I’m searching for his parents. This page is a summary of what is known and how we can discover his parents. This page will be updated as we learn more.

Background 

An 1895 article in the Evening Herald in Shenandoah revealed that William had a brother Jeremiah Jacobs living in Michigan. That led us to discover Jeremiah in the 1850 census in Pennsylvania:

The 1850 census recorded in York city: Jeremiah Jacobs, tanner, 36, living with wife Mary Ann, 32; daughter Lannah Augustus, 2; and son Charles C. 1. The next household is Catharine Jacobs, 51, living with Charles, plasterer, 23; and John, 5.
[Note: John is Jeremiah’s son according to his Michigan death certificate, suggesting that in 1850 he was living with his grandmother Catherine, unless she is Jeremiah’s older sister, sister-in-law, or step-mother.] Everyone was born in Pennsylvania.

We then discovered more evidence to define William James Jacob’s family as follows:

  • Mother: Catherine born about 1799 in Pennsylvania per 1850 census. If she is their mother, not sister or step-mother, she would have to be born earlier to sire William in 1812. Age mistakes are made often in early census records and she could easily have been born in 1796 instead, making her 16 when William was born.
  • Son: William James born 3 Jul 1812 died 17 Oct 1902 in Shenandoah, PA
  • Son: Jeremiah born 25 Dec 1817 died 20 Aug 1903 in Sunfield, MI
  • Son: Charles born about 1831 died 9 May 1891 in Harrisburg, PA

If Catherine is the mother, since she is living alone in 1850, it suggests her husband died sometime between 1831 when Charles was born and 1850.

To learn which Jacobs died, we search the Catalog section of FamilySearch.org for “United States, Pennsylvania, York County” and clicking on Probate Records, we viewed a microfilm of the Will Book index for the county to see a list of all the Jacobs who had an estate settlement:

  • Jacobs Philip Paradise Twp April 20 1792 Exce. Samuel Arnold & Philip Atland
  • Jacobs George York Boro 8 Mar 1820 Book O page 211 Exec. John spangler & Michael Welsh & Thos. Baumgardner
  • Jacobs Christopher York Boro 19 Dec 1826 page Book P page 464 Exec. Jacob Erion & Jacob Lehman
  • Jacobs Jonathan York Boro 28 Apr 1843 Book S page 321 Exec. John Sleeger
  • Jacobs Philip Dover Twp 8 Oct 1857 Book U page 424 Exec. John L Jacobs
  • Jacobs Mary Paradise Twp 4 Nov 1861 Book V page 414 Exec. Esaias & Levi Jacobs
  • Jacobs George Paradise Twp 25 Oct 1874 Book Z page 423 Exec. Solomon Maul
  • Jacobs Samuel Paradise Twp 11 Mar 1878 Book AA page 356 Exec. Isarael and Jeremiah Jacobs

Of the above, Jonathan Jacobs would be the only one dying after son Charles is born circa 1831 and before the 1850 census. We found his will in the Catalog section of FamilySearch.org and in his will, he names wife Dorothea and children John, Daniel, Samuel, Jacob, Jonas and Elizabeth who married Reinhart Hoffman. He is not a match for our family.

We also examined the will of Christopher Jacobs, in which he names sisters Catharine Erion, Elizabeth Hartman, Barbara Jacobs, and brothers Michael, John, Jonathan and George Jacobs. He is not a match.

So, probate records won’t solve our mystery.

Perhaps their Jacobs father did not die by 1850? He could be the George Jacobs born about 1795 found in the 1850 census in the South Ward of York, 10 census pages away from Catherine and Jeremiah Jacobs. See the census page.

Curously, that George is black, which raises a question about the 1850 census, which lists Jeremiah, his wife (but not their children), and Charles as “mulatto.” All their 1860 and later census have them “white,” the same as Catherine, William, and everyone’s children. The “mulatto” mystery is probably just an expression of the census taker’s opinion, as it’s well known that census takers just judged a person’s race based on appearance, without asking the family, so anyone with a dark complexion might be labeled mulatto by mistake.

When did Catherine die? In the 1860 census, William, Jeremiah, and Charles have moved far away with their own families. Perhaps she passed before 1860, or married, or she is the Catherine Jacobs, an elderly pauper (poor person) in the York county hospital in Spring Grove? See the census page.

Where were the parents born?

The father was born in:
Pennsylvania per son Jeremiah’s 1900 and son William’s 1880 census
France per son William’s 1900 census
blank per son Jeremiah’s 1880 census

The mother was born:
Wales per son William’s 1900 census
Pennsylvania per her own 1850 census and son William’s 1880 census and son Jeremiah’s 1900 census
blank per son Jeremiah’s 1880 census

This is a significant issue, because if they were born in Pennsylvania, then we have other elder members of the family who can be found in census and church records, likely in York county. We may also discover DNA matches to Jacobs branches that join a common Jacobs ancestor before 1800.

If they were from France and Wales, perhaps they immigrated and arrived in York shortly before their children were born, and there are no relatives in York county.

Finding father Jacobs in a church

The best way to discover a father’s name is to find a church baptism record for the birth of William in 1812, Jeremiah in 1817 or Charles in 1831.

Most church records in York county are not indexed and searchable in online sites like FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com. They can be viewed on microfilms of the church records books, or transcriptions of those, found within the Catalog section of FamilySearch.org. But knowing which churches to check requires knowing which town or township in York County is most likely to be the location.

To determine the locations to search first, we can use the 1820 census to see where Jacobs households were. (We’ve found often Jacobs are recorded as surname Jacob in early records, so both need consideration.)

In 1820 census listings we must see 2+ males under 10 years of age (William and Jeremiah).

If Catherine is their mother, she would be 27+ years old (assuming she was at least 15 in 1812 when William was born.) The father would likely be the same age or older.

Based on our analysis of Jacobs households below, it appear the best location to begin searching for baptism records is York city

Using the Catalog search at FamilySearch.org for “United States, Pennsylvania, York, York” and clicking Church Records we get a list of available churches. Most church microfilms are copyrighted, so unlike government record films which can be viewed at your home, the church records must be viewed on a PC at your local Family History Center location.  We’ll be viewing films weekly and will report which churches did not have any matches. In addition to looking for baptisms, we’ll check church  burials of Jacobs between 1830 and 1850, and marriages prior to the 1812 birth of William James Jacobs.

The 1820 Census households that can be a match are…

Name: Widow Jacobs b. <1776
Note: The young males in this household could be William and Jeremiah. If so, their parents are also living in the household of this older widow who would be William and Jeremiah’s grandmother.
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): York, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 3
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 2
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 2

Based on this Widow Jacobs record, it is worthwhile to look for baptism records in York city.

Name: Abraham Jacobs, weaver b. 1776-1794
Note: the Jacobs families of Paradise township descend from settler George Jacobs and established Jacobs Mills. They are well documented and unlikely related to our Jacobs family.
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Paradise, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1

These households could be a match if Catherine is not the mother, but rather a sister or sister-in-law.

Name: Wm Jacobs b. 1776-1794
Note: might be a match if Catherine is not the mother; parents are much older; and if census taker miscalculated the sons ages
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Warrington, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 4
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1

These households can be a match in adjacent Adams county where York families often migrated.

Name: William Jacobs b. 1776-1794
Note: could be a match
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Franklin, Adams, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 2
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1

Name: Gaberal Jacobs b. 1776-1794
Note: could be a match
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Latimore, Adams, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 18: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1

Name: James Jacobs b. <1776
Note: might be a match if Catherine is not the mother; parents are much older
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Hamilton, Adams, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 3
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1

These households cannot be a match…

Name: Geo Jacobs, farmer b. <1776
Note: Cannot be a match because York Gazette 22 Feb 1822 has a notice in German that the sheriff was selling the land of Georg Jacobs, deceased, in Paradise Township, bordering land of Henry Jacobs, Abraham Zimmer, Frederick Brandt, so George Jacobs died between 1820 and Feb 1822.
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Paradise, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 18: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 4
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1

Name: Henry Jacob, farmer b. <1776
Note: not enough young sons
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Paradise, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 18: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 3
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 3
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1

Name: Geo Jacobs, farmer b. 1795-1804
Note: not enough sons
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Monaghan, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1

Name: Philip Jacobs, farmer b. <1776
Note: not enough sons, father too old
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Washington, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1

Name: Hary Jacob
Note: not enough young sons, no father of age
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): West Manchester, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free Colored Persons – Males – Under 14: 1

Name: Mchl Jacob, weaver b. <1776
Note: not enough young sons
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Warrington, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1

Name: Peter Jacob, weaver b. 1776-1794
Note: not enough young sons
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Conewago, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1

Colored familiesSince the 1850 census suggests

Name: John Jacobs b. <1776
Notes: cannot be a match because there is no older wife in this home?
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): York, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free Colored Persons – Males – Under 14: 4
Free Colored Persons – Males – 14 thru 25: 3
Free Colored Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1
Free Colored Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free Colored Persons – Females – Under 14: 3
Free Colored Persons – Females – 14 thru 25: 3

Name: Christopher Jacob b. <1776
Notes: cannot be a match because there is no older wife in this home?
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): York, York, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free Colored Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1
Free Colored Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free Colored Persons – Females – 14 thru 25: 1

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