Pennsylvania Beecher Family History and Family Trees
You’ve come to the right place if you have interest in any of these surnames:
This website has the family tree of all of their descendants to the present day who in the 1800’s migrated elsewhere, most often to North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, and as far west as California. (This website also has trees for anyone with those surnames prior to 1900 in Pennsylvania, to make it easy to know who is part of Engel and Henry’s family, and who is not.)
Engel and Henry’s original surname, Bücher, with the umlaut – two dots above the u – is pronounced in German somewhat similar to Beecher, but as that surname became Americanized in later generations, it took on the many variations shown above. The statistics above show the number of descendants of Engel and Henry who use each surname today. We call this collection of names Beecher Etc.
Discovering these family ties to their immigrants is the result of the Bucher/Beecher Y-DNA Project which was founded in 2003 at FamilyTreeDNA.com by the owner of this website, Jonathan Scott Beecher. I will gladly help you research any of these surnames so email me at the address atop this page.
Y-DNA is very different than the popular Ancestry DNA tests you’ve seen advertised on TV. Y-DNA is only passed from a father to his sons. With a Y-DNA test, a male can find other males with his same or similar surname who share a common male ancestor thousands and thousands of years ago. It’s a very accurate way to trace the origin of your father’s surname family. (If you are a male Beecher Etc., you can take a simple $49 saliva test by mail to learn which Beechers you are related to.)
Before you explore our Beecher family trees, it is wise to read this whole page (please scroll down) to get the overview of the Beecher Etc. ancestors.
About the Beecher Surname
Are you curious about the relationship between Bücher and Beecher surnames? In German, bücher means books and the word bücher years ago also referred to the crude paper used which was made from beech trees. A bücher was also an occupation — a woodsman who cut beech trees for paper making. (Unfortunately, because bücher means books it is quite difficult to Google anything on German sites when trying to find ancestors with surname Bücher.)
Bücher with the umlaut in German is identical to surname Buecher. The umlaut and other diacritics (marks above vowels) were invented change vowel sounds and to save space in typeset papers and books, so instead of Buecher to indicate an E sound, Bücher achieved the same pronunciation using one less character.
Beecher Etc. News
News: Sep 2018! We have hired a German genealogist to expand our Y-DNA testing into Germany to find the origin of our Beecher/Beicher/Biecher/Bicher/Beacher/Beeker/Beher/Bücher family. See our Bücher Emigration to America page.
News: Sep 2018! Our Y-DNA tests have proven that the Beher families in Indiana are actually descendants of our Beecher/Bücher ancestors. Samuel Beher (1795-1863) is the grandson of Henry Beecher/Beher/Bücher who died 1795 in Littlestown, PA. Many thanks to our new cousin Tom Beher for helping us prove this by participating in our project. Click on the blue link for Samuel to see his family tree! It was a surprise in 2015 when we discovered our Beeker cousins in NC and now we must begin researching all Behers in the 1800s as there may be more to discover!
News: April 2018! We’re sad to discover that Y-DNA testing revealed that one branch of Beechers are not really part of our family. It appears it is Henry Ward Beecher (1887-1950) of York, PA who is actually the son a Weihmiller/Winemiller who may be the William Frederick Weihmiller who is living in the 1900 census with Henry Ward’s grandfather, Paris Epler Beecher and married Paris’ daughter Anna Elizabeth Beecher. Read our research article for all the details.
News: Dec 2017! We have new photo gallery with deeds and documents for Henry Beecher who died in 1795 in Littletown, PA.
News: Nov 2017! We have an online Google map showing exactly where Beecher Etc. deeds were in 1700s Pennsylvania, with links to records at nearby churches. Uncheck the church map layer to display only the Beecher locations.
News: Oct 2015! Y-DNA tests confirmed that the PA Beechers have Y-DNA identical to the Beekers who went to North Carolina in the late 1700s. It’s a perfect match that confirms the NC Beekers are the sons of the PA Beechers whose whereabouts were previously unknown. We are searching now for records to prove the connection. We have complete family trees for the NC Beekers on this site at Beeker Family History and Family Trees
News: Jan 2010! Sadly since we first published Johann Engel Bücher on an Ancestry.com tree in 2003 lots of folks assumed he was born 1700 in Switzerland, and that is now copied into zillions of trees. We have Y-DNA tests proving it’s wrong, explained on this page.
At page bottom we name the earliest known Beechers in Pennsylvania and their family trees, but first let’s summarize the unrelated Beecher family lines that existed in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Since we began a Beecher Y-DNA project in 2003 to identify relationships between Beecher families, we have learned the following Beechers occur in Pennsylvania:
Pennsylvania German Beechers
German-speaking immigrants arrived on ship in the 1700’s and 1800’s usually with one of two surnames that sound like Beecher: Becher or Bücher, with an umlaut above the U modifying the German pronunciation like an E sound. Some of these immigrants adopted a variant spelling including Beecher, Beicher, Biecher, Beeker, Beher, Beacher, etc. or Bicher, the latter pronounced as Beecher by today’s Pennsylvanians.
- Y-DNA tests have shown the majority of Beecher etc. ancestors found in Pennsylvania from 1700 to 1900 are in fact one family related by Y-DNA, originating from German speaking immigrants who came to America on ships from Rotterdam prior to the Revolutionary War, some of whom are identified below on this page. The original surname is recorded as Bücher in 1700’s records among those we have Y-DNA tested to date. The Y-DNA haplogroup type of this family is I-M253, which is the Y-DNA of the Vikings and found in most males in Scandanavia, and along the Baltic Sea coast where the Vikings conquered, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, northern Germany, Holland, northern France, the Britiish isles, and Iceland. There is a map below showing the most likely areas where our Y-DNA is matching others.
- There are also a number of German-speaking colonial-era Becher immigrants who became Beechers in later generations. Y-DNA tests show this Beecher family is haplogroup type R1b1a2 and therefore unrelated to the majority of Beechers in Pennsylvania. The Becher line is a distinct family having different origins. Please visit our Becher genealogy page on this site to learn about them.
- We have also tested all the many colonial-era Pennsylvania Bucher families (without the umlaut so they pronounce their name with an O sound as Booker, Bookur, or Booher) and none of those match the Y-DNA of the Büchers. Much more on this is below.
- The North Carolina Beekers living in Rowan and Davidson County are the same family as the Pennsylvania lines. In PA records in the 1700s we see the Beechers sometimes recorded as Beeker due to the German pronunciation.
- The Virginia Behers who migrated to Indiana are another branch of the Pennsylvania lines,
- We have employed a German genealogist immigrants were born and in Summer, 2019 we expect this project to be completed which can reveal our origin, and involve Y-DNA test on living male descendants who remained in Europe.
- Read about the known earliest ancestors in this Beecher line at the very bottom of this page.
If you are curious about the relationship between Bücher and Beecher surnames here is the story. In German, bücher means books and the word bücher years ago also referred to the crude paper used which was made from beech trees. A bücher was also an occupation — a woodsman who cut beech trees for paper making. (Unfortunately, because bücher means books it is quite difficult to Google anything on German sites when trying to find ancestors with surname Bucher.)
Connecticut Beechers came to Pennsylvania
Many Beechers in America, particularly in New England, are descended from the famous abolitionist Beecher line that includes preacher Henry Ward Beecher and Harriett Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They originate from a John Beecher (1594-1637) who was among the English explorers who founded New Haven, Connecticut in 1637.
Our Beecher Y-DNA project proves the Connecticut Beechers are not related to the Pennsylvania Beechers discussed above, and we will explore the Y-DNA differences in the next section “Beecher Y-DNA Findings.”
A few of these New England Beechers migrated into Pennsylvania early on…
Samuel Beecher, born 1784 in New Haven, Connecticut, settled in Pike Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania and Beechers that county are descend from him.
John Orrin Beecher, b.1784 in Massachusetts, was among the early settlers in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, with five sons born there from 1808 to 1822. Descendants are found as far south as Schuylkill County and in western Pennsylvania in later years.
During the later 1800’s, a few Connecticut Beechers from other branches stray into the Philadelphia area or near Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and Erie.
While genealogists have long assumed that the Connecticut John Beecher b.1594 was English, our Y-DNA testing has shown his ancestors were originally from Germany matching males having surname Bücher — read the Connecticut Beecher Y-DNA findings further down this page. While our online tree has the Connecticut Beechers who were in Pennsylvania before 1900, to research all the New England Beecher line in detail, you should consult the expert research of Jim Shaw and William H. Beecher IV who have the complete descendancy of John Beecher online here on Rootsweb’s free site.
Other Beechers in Pennsylvania
- Irish Beechers in Pennsylvania. In the mid 1800’s a handful of immigrants arrive with surname Beecher with their census reports showing they were born in Ireland or Wales. They are found in small numbers employed in coal mining regions near Schuylkill county, the factories near Pittsburgh, and in Philadelphia. Our online family trees identify these as distinct families; we have no prove of connections to the Germany Beechers.
- Italian Beechers in Pennsylvania. A Lawrence Beecher family immigrated from Italy in the 1800’s and lived in Philadelphia.
- Later German Beechers in Pennsylvania. In the mid 1800’s a few Beecher or Bicher immigrants arrive whose census reports have a birthplace in Germany. No evidence has yet been found to tie any to the original Pennsylvania German Beecher families and none of these later immigrants descendants have been Y-DNA tested. They appear on this website in separate family trees until we know more.
Beecher Y-DNA Findings
DNA findings constantly evolve as scientists learn more plus more people participate in DNA genealogy research. Please return to get updates. After reading the following summary, you can review the latest results of our Beecher Y-DNA research.
There is a vast difference in the Y-DNA of Pennsylvania German Beechers and Connecticut Beechers, so the lines were not related within thousands of years.
- Pennsylvania German Beecher Y-DNA: While they were German-speaking, the Y-DNA found in most Pennsylvania Beechers is haplogroup I1 (in particular I-M253). I1 is predominantly found in areas along the Baltic and North Sea coasts where the Vikings conquered and spread their families. I1 is especially common today in Scandinavia – it reaches levels of 33% in Denmark and Sweden and is also found in England, Germany and the Netherlands, where it is about 15% of men. Some males with I1 migrated further inland over time so it is possible the Beecher ancestors came from further south in Germany, even though I1 isn’t as common there. Eventually, the origin place in Europe of the Pennsylvania German Beechers will be discovered when a Y-DNA match is found in a male living in Europe whose family line is known back to the 1700’s, or, our Y-DNA matches a male in the USA who immigrant arrived later in the 1800’s and his origin is known. As mentioned above, while most PA Beechers are one related family line with I1 Y-DNA, there is a second smaller line originating from Becher ancestors with R1b1a2 Y-DNA that is discussed on our Becher genealogy page.
- Connecticut Beecher Y-DNA: Their haplogroup is type R1b (in particular R1b1a2). R1b is the most common Y-DNA haplogroup in Western Europe and therefore common to immigrants who founded America. It occurs in about 40% of men in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Britain, and Holland and even higher in Spain and France. John Beecher b.1594 arrived with the English colonists who founded Connecticut. His Y-DNA matches German ancestors and suggests he shared a German-speaking male ancestor in the 1500’s, perhaps his father or grandfather.
Where Did the Pennsylvania German Beechers Immigrate From?
The following map shows the locations in Europe where the Y-DNA of Engel Bücher (tested by this website’s owner, Jonathan Beacher) matches others on 25-markers or more. The locations shown are where an earlier known ancestor was located, but so far none of these matched ancestors have a Beecher-like surname. Why? Because Y-DNA can show related males back hundreds and thousands of years, even before surnames came into use at the end of the middle ages, and before record keeping became common in the 1400’s and 1500’s. So although these “cousins” have different surnames, we did share a common male we’ll never be able to identify since there were no records kept. We have located a village in Germany where we believe the Beecher etc. line originates and have employed a German genealogist to confirm or disprove this. During the latter part of 2019 we will announce findings.
The map does help us theorize where our Bücher / Beecher etc. ancestors are more likely to be from. As expected, the highest concentrations of matches are in the areas where our I-1 Y-DNA was spread by the Vikings when they traveled to conquer the Baltic sea coasts. The yellow locations have 1-2 marker mutation differences, and the red locations are perfect matches with our Beecher Y-DNA.
Pennsylvania German Beecher Ancestors
From the 1960’s until he died in 2004, Bruce Franklin Beacher Ph.D who lived in Adams County, Pennsylvania, visited countless churches, cemeteries, historic societies, and mailed, phoned and knocked on doors of any Beechers, Beachers, Biechers, and Beichers he could find in Pennsylvania. He discovered his earliest Beecher ancestor was Jacob Bicher b.1758 in Lancaster County who died in 1842 in Lebanon County, and upon contacting Bichers he found in the phone book, he learned they also pronounce their surname like Beecher. Upon finding Jacob Bicher’s marriage record in Stouchsburg, Berks County, it identified his father was Engel Bücher, that spelling also found for Jacob Bicher’s earliest church records.
In the 1970’s he began sharing research with Mary Lou Mariner, a descendant of John Beecher b.1757 who died in 1842 in Adams County, who collaborated with researcher Sharon Swope, another Beecher descendant, to find considerable info about another possibly related line of Beechers descending from a Henry Buecher d.1795. Another Beecher descendant, Craig Bennett, contributed considerable research in the 1970s.
Yet another Beecher line was being researched by Henry Jacoby Beecher (1922-2016) ( of York County who traced his ancestry back to a John Beecher (1757-1819) in Lancaster County who died in 1819 in Berks County, signing his will as Johannes Bücher.
In 2004 no one was certain if these Beecher families were related or not, and no linking proof could be found.
To continue his Uncle Bruce Beacher’s genealogy research, in 2003 Jonathan Beacher (webmaster of this site) started a Y-DNA project at FamilyTreeDNA.com, hoping that brand-new technology might provide answers. Sadly, Bruce Beacher died in 2004 just before our first major Y-DNA findings were known, answering puzzles Bruce tried to solve for over 30 years. He was right: the York County Beechers were the same family as Bruce’s Bicher ancestors in Lancaster County.
In addition to testing Beecher relationships, we decided to also test Bucher surnames. Engel Bücher died in 1778 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, and living nearby was Hans Bucher (1715-1793) who immigrated in 1735, so it was expected Engel’s Y-DNA would match Hans. Beecher researchers in York and Adams counties had theorized they might be descended from Nicholas Bucher (1670-1765) who immigrated in 1727. There were many other Bucher immigrants to consider. Could any one of these be our connection?
DNA Research Findings about Pennsylvania Beechers
1. No Bucher Relatives in Pennsylvania — Bucher and Bücher Aren’t the Same: The Y-DNA testing found the Pennsylvania German Beechers are not related to any other Bucher ancestor line found in 1700’s Pennsylvania. This makes sense, considering that all other Bucher families pronounce their surnames as Booker or Bookur or Booher whereas the Beechers wrote their original surname as Bücher with the German umlaut (two dots) over the U which results in our different pronunciation. Further, no Bucher lines have the the haplogroup I-M253 DNA of the Beechers. Our research identified 14 unrelated Bucher family lines in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia in the 1700’s. Knowing the Beechers are unrelated is very helpful so we are careful not to confuse ancestors in Bucher families within our Beecher trees. (This website contains trees of all the unrelated Bucher lines.)
2. Most Pennsylvanians with Surnames Beecher, Beicher, Biecher, Bicher, Beacher, Beechert are Related.
Y-DNA tests show the following Beecher family lines were closely related by a common male ancestor in the 1600’s or 1700’s:
- RELATED PENNSYLVANIA BEECHER FAMILIES. Click name to see their trees.
- Engel Bücher d.1778 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County and immigrated in 1751 on the ship Neptune. All of his descendants are Beachers, Bichers, Beichers, Biechers, or Beechers.
- John Beecher b.1757 in Lancaster County. When he died in 1819 he begins his will “I John Beecher” but signs it as Johannes Bücher. Most descendants are Beechers but a few adopt Biecher, Beicher and Beichert. With the help of Y-DNA tests and other evidence, we determine John is the son of Engel Bücher.
- John Bicher b.1791 and brother Benjamin Bicher b.1797 in Lancaster County. All descendants are Bichers, pronounced like Beecher. They are grandsons of Engel Bücher. We found documentation to establish they are the sons of Peter Bicher.
- Henry Buecher d.1795 in Littlestown, Adams County. He is father of the John Beecher b.1757 who died in Adams County in 1842 and perhaps the brother of Engel, and he is likely the Johan Heinrich Bücher who arrived with Engel in 1751 on the ship Neptune. See our photo gallery with his deeds, will, etc. All of his descendants use the Beecher surname.
Here’s an interactive map of where these ancestors died. You can move the map with your mouse or zoom in to see details.
Some mysteries to prove..
Mystery 1: Arriving on the ship Neptune in 1751 with Johan Engel Bücher is Johan Henrich Bücher. Y-DNA tests show Engel matches the Henry Buecher who died in 1795 in Adams County who sired many Beecher descendants. If he immigrated with Engel he would be a brother, if not then cousin, not his son, since their children are born in the same time frame: 1750’s and 1760’s. Engel Bucher and Henry Buecher were both shoemakers.
Mystery 2: Solved! Those researching John Beecher b.1759 naturally believed he wasn’t related to the the descendants of Engel Bücher since they used surname Bicher, Biecher, and Beicher in the early 1800s. The Y-DNA testing shows they are indeed related and combined with other evidence one can confidently conclude that John Beecher is Engel’s son John who is named in Engel’s will in 1778.
Those are the mysteries concerning the Beechers who match Y-DNA, but we have many more Beechers to explore in colonial Pennsylvania…
Possible Elder Beecher Ancestors
Following are ancestors who should be part of our Pennsylvania Beecher family tree in the early 1700’s. If you can identify their fathers please email email@example.com so we can update this website.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
A Peter Bicher arrived on the ship Edinburgh, 30 Sep 1754, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
We have found no evidence to confirm that he is the same Peter Biecher who in 1759 bought lot No. 27 in the town of Lebanon, according to the book, “Old Salem in Lebanon” about the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church that Engel Bücher’s son Jacob attended until he died. But we do know that Engel’s son Jacob Bicher (1758-1842) lived later on this same lot that Peter Biecher bought. Further, the book also documents that in 1760 a David Beecker bought lot No. 9 and are looking for records to identify his possible connection.
New Holland, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Conrad Bucher attended Trinity Lutheran Church in New Holland with wife Anna nee Bostrunk, where their daughter Maria Margaretha is baptized 31 Mar 1751. Conrad might be related to the Bücher/Bicher families who appear in this same church, because he doesn’t appear in any family trees for the 5 Bucher families that existed in 1700’s Pennsylvania. We have found no other records for Conrad in Lancaster County, although he might this Conrad Bucher found in 1759 and later in Adams County, Pennsylvania.
Johan Peter Bucher (1753-?)
Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Johan Peter Bucher born 26 Dec 1753 was baptized at First Reformed Church in Lancaster city, son of Christian and Susan Margaret Bucher. Christian and Peter have not been recorded in any family tree of the 5 Bucher families that existed in 1700’s Pennsylvania, so they might be Beecher ancestors.
Possible Beecher Descendants
Following are possible descendants who should tie into our family trees, but we cannot yet identify their fathers. We don’t have Y-DNA tests on their descendants yet to prove they are related, but it seems obvious they are. Can you connect them?
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
View William Beecher’s Tree
In 1800 to 1804, a William Beecher and wife Maria baptize son Jacob and daughter Amelia Maria at First Reformed Church in Lancaster. William would likely be born before 1780.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
View John Bicher’s Tree
The marriage record of William M. Bicher (1829-1890) identifies his parents as a John Bicher of Lancaster county, PA who married Sarah E. Sands. This John Bicher would be born about 1810 or earlier and surely must be a grandson of Engel Bucher, but we have found no records for John in Pennsylvania. Son William was born in Lancaster county, married in Ohio and dies in Illinois.
Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
View William Bicher’s Tree
Born about 1801 according to the 1850 census, William Bicher and wife Sarah are found living in Lebanon city.
Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
View John Bicher’s Tree
Born about 1820 according to the 1850 census, John Bicher and wife Rebecca are living in Lebanon city.
Perry County, Pennsylvania
View Jacob Beecher’s Tree
Born about 1798 in Pennsylvania, Jacob Beecher and wife Lena are in Perry county in the 1860-70 census. They may be descendants of the Adams county Beechers since Perry is close.
Adams County, Pennsylvania
View John Beecher’s Tree
When William Little dies in 1822, his will mentions his daughter Elizabeth is married to John Beecher. We have yet to determine who this John is, but his birth would likely be about 1805 or earlier.
Adams County, Pennsylvania
View John Beecher’s Tree
Born in 1813 in Adams county, John appears in Menallen Township in 1850 census and married Elizabeth Guilden in 1850 in York Springs. We are presently unable to identify his father but certainly he descends from the Adams county Beechers. His descendants migrate to Altoona in Blair county.
John Beecher and sons Peter and John
Berks County, Pennsylvania and Franklin County, Ohio
View Peter Beecher’s Tree
View John Beecher’s Tree
John Beecher and wife Elizabeth Sauda [Sanda] give birth near Reading, Pennsylvania to Peter Beecher b.1831 and John Beecher b.1843. The sons are in Franklin County, Ohio, in the 1860 census, in 1870 in Indiana where John dies, and Peter dies in Kansas. Peter marries Elizabeth Ridenour in Ohio, and the Ridenour and Beecher families settle as neighbors in Gahanna in Franklin County where Beecher Road and Ridenour Road are today named near their adjacent farms. It’s logical these Beechers are part of the tree of John Beecher b.1759 of Berks County since others in his family also move to Franklin County, Ohio.
View John Beecher’s Tree
Jacob Beecher marries Mary Ann VanDeventer in 1846 in Kane county, Illinois. His 1850 census states Jacob was born about 1828 in Pennsylvania (1860 census says 1818), Mary about 1824 in New York. His son William H. Beecher born 1849 returns to Pennsylvania by 1880 and lives his life in Franklin, Venango county. He may have chosen Venango because related Beechers were there. In Venango County, Pennsylvania: Her Pioneers and People we read a George D. Beecher served as a Civil War lieutenant in Company A of the 161st Regiment – 16th Cavalry. He would be born anytime prior to 1848, but we cannot find any record of George D. other than to confirm his Civil War service in the Venango company.
Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
View Elizabeth Beicher Tree
A mysterious Elizabeth Beicher born in 1788 is found in a death record in Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio, when she dies 25 May 1868, with her birthplace specifically listed as Lancaster City, Pennsylvania. Given the birth date and location and surname spelling, she surely must be related to the families of immigrant Engel Bücher. Elizabeth is listed as a widow, so she married a Beicher, her maiden name we still don’t know, nor do we know which Beicher she married. Widows typically lived out their final years with a son or a daughter (whose surname following marriage obivously would not be Beicher) so finding her son or daughter in Sandusky County may reveal who their Beicher father was.
John and Jacob Beacher
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
View John Beacher’s Tree
View Jacob Beacher’s Tree
Two brothers, John Beacher b.abt.1805 and Jacob Beacher b.abt.1815 are found in Springfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. They could be missing grandsons of Engel Bucher d.1778 who are not accounted for, or, missing descendants of Henry Buecher d.1795.