Johannes Zaher, (Sears) a sheep herder in Switzerland and his wife (name unknown) had a son named Christian about the year 1742. Christian told his children later in life that they herded sheep so high on the mountains that they could wash their hands in the mist of the clouds. This means that Christian was old enough to herd the sheep and remember this.
Johannes Zaher was most likely a member of an Anabaptist religion such as the Mennonites or German Baptist. In America these religions called their fellow Christians Brethren and others called them Dunkers. The Dunker name was based on the German word Tunker which meant to soak. The Dunkers believed in tri-immersion baptism at time of belief. This caused the conflict with state religions of Catholic and Lutheran because they baptisted babies. Dunkers were not well favored in the communities so many migrated to Holland which was more tolerant.
Christian Sears remembers living in Holland. There is another story that they had to go near 1000 miles down the Rhine River to Holland from Switzerland. One story says they sailed for America and landed in Pennsylvania one year before the birth of John Sears (1749).
YORK COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
The next child born to the Zaher family is John between 1749-1755 in York County, Pennsylvania.
It is also reported but not documented that the Zaher family lived in York, Pennsylvania and were members of Ephrata Church. The Ephrata group was a strict brethren group that built a monastery-like commune where they practiced a rigid discipline and lived in a completely independent but elemental fashion in a self-contained community. They sought no contact with the outside world but freely provided hospitality to any traveler who requested shelter. The men and women lived in separate buildings. It was run by Conrad Beisel.
Johannes and his Swiss wife also had two more children, daughters. One was Barbara, we do not know where she was born but it is reported she married Mark Shuls (Shultz, Shulse). The other sister name is not known but Stutzmann researchers say her name is Ann and she married John Helm (s) or John Stutzmann or both. Nothing more is known of these two sisters. Records are scarce for this area and time but we do have a few that appear to be Johannes Zaher. Records for the Zaher (Sears) family have been found under the following names: Zaher, Zehr, Zere, Zear, Zehe, Zeher, Sawyers, Sares, and Sears. It appears that Johannes Zaher's wife died before 1758. This left Johannes Zaher without a wife to raise his young children, he soon married again a widow named Barbara Miller whose first husband was named John Hahn (Hon). Barbara Miller and John Hahn (Hon) had only one son Jonas Hahn (Hon). Jonas is the ancestor for many future Brethren ministers, especially the well known Peter Keithley Hon who was his son.
The story of the Hon and Sears family line begins, in Manchester Township, County of York, Province of Pennsylvania, on September 22-23, 1758, two days when officialdom and bonded others conducted their formal inquiries into the estate of John Hahn, deceased, and ended on one day in 1768, with the settlements paid to John's heirs in the county's Orphans Court. In these settlement papers below it lists John Zere (Johannes Zaher) the new husband of Barbara Hon.
"I Barbara Hahn widow of John Hahn later of Manchester Township York county deceased do hereby renounce my right of administration of the estate of my said husband and do request the administration of the said estate of my said husband and do request the administration of the said estate may be granted to Henry Miller my brother witness my hand and seal at York the 23 Sept. 1758."
Ten years were to pass before the estate came to the Orphans Court of York County for settlement. The hearing was held "… the twenty ninth day of November in the ninth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George the Third by grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the faith de anno 1768 …" The clerk entered the following into the record:
Settlement of John Hahn's estate came ten years later. Book B, pages 204-205, the Orphans Court, records the event this way:
"At an Orphans Court held at York, the County of York the twenty ninth day of November in the ninth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George the third by the grace of God of Great Britian, France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith etc, Anno Domini 1768 before David Jameson Martin Eychelberger and Michael Swoop esq. Justices & c assigned & c.—
"Came into court Henry Miller Administrator of all and singular the goods and chattels rights and credits which were of John Hahn deceased and produced the accompt of his administration of the estate of the deceased as settled by the Register of this county whereby there appeared to be a balance of forty seven pounds eleven shillings three pence in his hands to be distributed which being examined by the court they do approve of and confirm the same whereupon it is ordered and decreed by the court that the said Henry Miller do pay unto John Zere and Barbara his wife which said Barbara is the late widow of the said deceased the sum of fifteen pounds twelve shillings and ten pence in full for her third part of the said balances that the said Henry Miller also pay unto Jonas Hahn the only child of the deceased the sum of thirty one pounds five shillings and eight pence in full for his share of the said ballances that which with the costs of this court makes the full amount of the said sum in the hands of the said administrator."
The only other record that appears to be Johannes Zaher in Pennsylvania is the tax list of 1762.There is a John Zear in the Mannheim Township tax list of 1762. There are many other future ancestors of the lines that married the Sears and Hon's so here is abstract of some of the list.
Meanwhile Stepson Jonas Hon (son of Barbara Miller) future family is coming into view.
A Mary Hunsacker born about 1721 married Casper Roland (Rowland)*(Step father-in-law of Jonas) and had the following children: Jacob, Isaac, and John. Casper Rowland arrived at Philadelphia on 12 Oct 1741 on the ship "Friendship" at age 20 from the Palatine. Land documentation for Casper have been found in Manheim and Paradise townships, York County, Pennsylvania in 1760 and 1762 and in Frederick County, Maryland in from 1762 to1766. There is also a reference to Rowland as owning land along the Big Conewago in 1757 in a deed to Gerber family. In 1760 he is listed buying land in Paradise from Noel, 100 acres. Casper and Mary apparently joined the Dunkards under Michael Danner (later Donner) in Manheim Township, York County. So this connects them to other Frederick County, Maryland families of Rowland, Hon, Sears, Danner, Gerber (Garber), Leatherman, Stutzmann, Welty and Cocgenhower.
The absence of additional comtemporary information about John Zere and Barbara his wife makes it difficult to say much more about them. Evidently marriage between John Hahn and Barbara Miller, a birth of a son and a second marriage for her with John Zere, and a birth of his son John, but no records of any of these events was found by the author in either publications listing marriages and baptisms nor such listings in the historical society's Miller family file.. The search was extended to Lancaster County, the parent county of York, but the results were equally as disappointing. Deed abstract books, will and probate abstracts, and tax and mortgage record books were searched also. (This note per Edgar Hon research who supplied the Hahn estate papers)
The main connection to this John Zere of York County, Pennsylvania and later Maryland and Rowan County, North Carolina is the other Dunkard families including Jonas Hon.
PIPE CREEK, MARYLAND
In 1768 the years newly restrictive British trade laws-and Redcoats to enforce them – caused rumbles of discontent to reach from New England to the Middle Colonies.
In the same time period the states were arguing over their borders. Lord Baltimore who own Maryland was encouraging settlement in his state. So the Brethren moved into Maryland.
The most likely route to travel would have been what was called "the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road," or "the Great Wagon Road.". From York it led through what is now Hagerstown, Maryland. Modern maps do not show any stream in this area that could be identified as Pipe Creek, but an old map, date unknown, shows a "Big Pipe Creek" in Frederick County running almost into the headwaters of Codorus Creek in Pennsylvania. According to the land records
The settlement of John Hahn estate in 1768 may have contributed to Johannes Zaher family being able to buy the following indenture in Maryland. This document confirms that Johannes Zaher listed as John Zear had a wife Barbara and a son Christian. It also tells us that Johannes Zaher is an apple farmer. By land records the Zaher's were in Maryland from 1768-1773
Liber L Folio 570-572 Family History Film 0139511
While in Maryland Johannes and Barbara appear to have had four more children.
Although the land purchase is in 1768 if appears according to the births of Johannes next children that they were in Maryland as early as 1762. Johannes and Barbara's daughter Mary born between 1762-1764 by her 1850 and 1860 census. In 1850 in Edgar County, Illinois page 154 age 88 and 1860 Edgar County, Illinois age 96 pg 613 say she was born in Maryland. Her sister Catherine in her 1850 census Sangamon County, Illinois pg 215 says she was born in Maryland in 1765 also. We also must assume that the next child Samuel was born in Maryland since Johannes and Barbara are still in Maryland on the 11th August 1769 when Samuel's tombstone says he was born. Finally sister Frances was probably born before 1773 which would make her born in Maryland although no document has been found for her exact date of birth. Francis was born between the years 1770-1775 by her census 1810-1840. We know she married William Imbler because this marriage is available in Rowan County Records, the date was 15 Mar 1794 so we can confirm these are her early census. Her 1850 census has not been found. . It is said by her tombstone she was born 1759 but this must be an error because she does not marry until 15 March1794 and that would make her very old and her census say born after 1770's. Later in Census records of these peoples children they often say born in North Carolina. This is most likely an error based on the Sears many years in North Carolina and their children did not know they lived in Maryland before.
The following document signals that Johannes Zaher (John Zear) was on the move again.
John Zear sold the lease to Alexander J. Hawkins Liber U page 78 Nov 3, 1773
Liber U Folio 78-81 Family History Film 0139511 (source no. 391)
Because recording of land records in Rowan was not done from 1765-1789 because of legal disputes we don't know the precise year anyone moved to North Carolina. Since Johannes Zaher sold his land in Maryland 1773 we know it would have come after this and the first record of the family in Rowan North Carolina is 1778 when both Christian and his brother John as well as their future brother-in-law William Imler and other Brethren are signing a non-alliance document.
ROWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA
Johannes and Barbara Zaher's remaining children were born in Rowan County, North Carolina. Susan was born the 9th of May 1774, according to data submitted to the Familysearch.org family file and can not be traced but seems to fit, put is not proven. Her later tombstone has her born 1769 by calculation which if true puts her born in Maryland. Her 1850 census can not be found as of yet. Unless she is a twin her brother Samuel was born in 1769 so less likely although possible. Then Jacob is born about 1773 or 1775 if we assume there is another error in his 1850 which says he was 65, more likely he is probably 75 and they lied or made a mistake. His tombstone says 1773. Either way it appears he was born in North Carolina. Johannes Zaher and wife were in Frederick County, Maryland until 1773.There are two more children we do not know their births or ages. Elizabeth may be born between the years 1766-1784 based on a 1810 census of a John Martin. We know she married a Martin and he is the only Martin in the area where the family lived in 1810 but she could have moved somewhere else with her Martin husband. The last sibling is Daniel and we have his 1810 and 1820 census which makes him born between 1765-1780.
The first actual record of Johannes Zaher in North Carolina is the Geo Soell record of the Baptist Churches which included Ewharrie Church even though it was a Reform Baptist where Jacob Stutzmann is the minister.
Brethren Encyclopedia says the following about this church
"Uwharrie German Baptist Brethren Church, NC, located inpresent-day Randolph and Davidson Cos. The largest settlement of Brethren in colonial North Carolina, the area became the residence for Brethren from Maryland and Pennsylvania. The minister, Jacob Stutzman (1727-1813), arrived in 1764. Other family names included Huber (Hoover), Fouts (Pfautz), Schwartz(Black), Yount, Sheets, Rhoads, Wolfe, Sears, Waymire, Mast and Varner.
On the 1784 Rowan county, North Carolina tax there is John Sares (Sears) with 200 acres and Cristance Sares (Christian Sears) with 200 acres and John Sares (Sears)with 140 acres. This appears to be Johannes Zaher with 200 and his oldest two sons Christian and John. His next oldest son was Samuel who was only 15 in this year
In 1786 tax North Carolina General Assembly placed a maximum tax age of 60 on free polls, freeing a John Sears from paying poll tax. From this tax we know that Johannes Zaher was born before 1726.
Perhaps of interest to some readers is a 4 August 1798 Rowan County deed from Christian Sears to a Moses Lambeth. Christian signed with a mark and "Barbary his wife" signed with an X. This makes it clear at this time that Christian was married to a Barbara. Her last name is not known for sure but Stutzmann researchers believe it is Stutzmann, daughter of Jacob. During this period, incidentally, both John and Christian had land dealings with a Mark Shultz, a known Dunkard and probably the husband of their sister Barbara.
SEARS in 1790 CENSUS
1st of May 1788 Matthias Hunsinger is selling his land in Rowan County, North Carolina. Matthias is the husband of Mary Sears. There is an early story that says the Sears, Shulse, Ockermanns go to North Carolina in 1788. They arrive by 1 Dec 1788 in Fayette County, Kentucky in time to be taxed on the same day as Honis Hon (Jonas Hon) Mary's half-brother. This is the group of Sears that left in 1788. It may have included Mary's brother Samuel because he is in the tax records in 1791 there the first year he was 21. They are still in Fayette County, Kentucky in 1790.
So these siblings are not in the 1790 census of North Carolina.
It appears the rest of the Johannes Zaher family are in the 1790 census as follows:
Christian Sears 3-2-8 (3 males over 16, 2 males under 16, and 8 females) pg 177
Possible names because the people listed are not known for sure since no names in 1790.
Christian Sears over 16 (before 1774)
Johannes Zaher over 16 (before 1774)
Jacob Zaher (Sears) over 16 (before 1774)
Samuel Zaher (Sears) son of Johannes Zaher over (May be on his way to KY or there in 1791 he is there)
Jacob Sears (son of Christian) under 16 (1774-1790)
David Sears (son of Christian) under 16 (1774-1790)
John Sears (Christian's last son) (not born yet, he was born 1790 later or 1791)
Barbara Sears (wife of Christian)
Mary Sears (daughter of Christian)
Elizabeth Sears (daughter of Christian)
Sarah Sears (daughter of Christian)
Esther Zaher (Sears) (daughter of Johannes)
Frances Zaher (Sears) (daughter of Johannes)
Susan Zaher (Sears) (daughter of Johannes)
Elizabeth Zaher (Sears) (daughter of Johannes)
John Sears (1749) 1-4-3 (1 males over 16, 4 males under 16, 3 females) pg 177
John Sears over 21 (before 1769)
John Jr Sears under 16 (1774-1790)
Henry Sears under 16 (1774-1790)
George Sears under 16 (1774-1790)
Daniel Zaher (Sears) son of Johannes Zaher under 16 (1774-1790) this is guess but Daniel is living in the future everywhere John Sears (1749) is.
John Helms 1-3-1 (1 male over 21, 3 males 16-21, 1 female)
The following are Whites in 1790 Rowan County, North Carolina. James White of Roan County, North Carolina from future land record in Tennessee is known to be brother of Joel White future husband of Susan Sears, So one of these is probably got Joel in their household 1790. Joel is under 16 in 1790.
David White 1-1-2
Isaac White 1-1-2
James White 1-0-3
Thomas White 1-4-3
William White 2-0-4
Barbara Sears married a Mark Shults one of these could be her and her husband.
Mark Shults 1-1-1
Mark Shuts Sr 1-3-5
Frances Sears marries in 1794 a William Imbler and this could part of his family
William Embler 3-2-5 pg 343
George Harmon 1-2-2 pg 307
Wright family Phiburd and James future husbands of Mary and Elizabeth Sears are here with their families.
By 1790 all of Johannes Zaher Children are born so we now need to identify and trace their movement across America.
So going by tax records and land records we have the following of when the family members left for Kentucky. The first was presumed half brother Jonas Hon who left in early 1786 and is on tax records of the County of Kentucky in Viriginia 1787 . This is in Fayette County, Kentucky and he is there in 1788 also. He is there until 1790 and 1791 he is listed on Bourbon County Tax list until 1793 he is listed in Clark County, Kentucky. Samuel Sears appears in 1791 Fayette County, Kentucky and is in Clark County, Kentucky in 1795. By the wedding of Esther on 23 November 1796 all most all of the Johannes Zaher second family are in Kentucky. John Sears the son appears to have also sold his land in North Carolina by this time 1796 but does not appear in the tax records so not sure he is there yet or where. The Sears besides the timely incentive of more and better land moved to Kentucky for these better opportunities but things were also changing in North Carolina. Many non-Brethren wanted the special treatment for Brethren to be changed since the they did not serve in the Revolutionary War and in the church the West Coast Brethren did not follow Universalism which was become popular with the North Carolina Brethren. So all these factors together led the Sears to move on to Kentucky. Also a "Treaty of Greenville" was signed by the Kentucky Indian tribes. In 1796 they widen the wagon road to Kentucky. The following children arrive in Clark County by the following chart (Clark is Montgomery in 1797 and all records except tax were destroyed).
Johannes Sears Family
(Anna – No Data)
Catherine Sears married George Harmon (have not found in the years before 1805)
Esther Sears married Michael David Peebler in Clark , Kentucky by 1796 to get married
Samuel Sears in Clark 25 May 1795 and in Bourbon1797, John Sears and Jacob Sears (under Seers)
Francis Sears married William Imbler in Clark by 1793
Susan Sears married Joel White they went to Tennessee with his brothers.
Jacob Sears is in Bourbon 1797
Daniel Sears to young appear until 1798 in 1798 no tax was taken.
Step Son Jonas Hon came to Clark 1793
John Sears sold his land in 1796 North Carolina was in Bourbon County by 1799 next door to Clark.
If we look at this list we can see that Johannes Sears family and John Sears were all except Susan in Kentucky before 1800. Christian Sears family are all present in 1800 Rowan County, North Carolina. This confirms the story of Esther's father was in Kentucky with her. We are not sure if the man John Seers listed in 1797 Bourbon County, Kentucky tax is Johannes Zaher or his son John. It could be either. Johannes Zaher could have been over the age limited to be taxed at this time and so not listed. More research is needed. There is a story he died in North Carolina in area of Yadkin River but it appears this is an old assumption based on no record 1790 census and they could not find records of him later on.
However, the next move of the Sears brings us to a couple of records that could be Johannes Zaher. The whole family is going in two different directions the first group goes to Bourbon County, Kentucky this is just across the border and includes:
Jonas Hon in tax list 6 Aug 1800 Bourbon County, Kentucky
John Sears in tax list 1799 Bourbon County, Kentucky
Daniel Sears in 1810 Census of Bourbon County, Kentucky
The rest of the family except Christian Sears, including Johannes Zaher appear to have gone to the area of Warren County, Kentucky or Logan or Muhlenberg County Kentucky. These counties were changing during this time and it appears the Sears might be close to the borders at one time so their records go across the counties. They moved to Drakes Creek Area and this is where a big community of Brethren Dunkards moved which included the Hendricks and Keithley who started Drakes Creek Church. From this location they used the River ways and some of these families members went into Missouri by 1798 and established Brethren church there. David Conrad family owned land in this area in the early years. This land was under the control of the Spanish during these years and they were encouraging settlement.
The following are the family members in Muhlenberg County Tax and other connecting county records.
John Sears (Johannes Zaher ) in Muhlenberg Tax 3 Apr 1801 Not Chargable (this is probably due to age)
Jacob Sears on the list next to Johannes Zaher 3 Apr 1801 Muhlenberg Tax (Jacob was in the tax from 27 Jun 1799)
Catherine Sears husband George Harmon is in Logan 8 May 1805
Esther Sears husband Michael David Peebler is in Logan 12 Jul 1799
Samuel Sears is in Warren 1799 and in Logan 1801
Frances Sears husband William Imbler is in Muhlenberg 14 Dec 1798
With Susan Sears in Tennessee and Daniel is with step brother John in Bourbon.
So this is Johannes Zaher family in this area of Kentucky and his last record is 1802. It maybe he got sick and died and that is why Jacob Sears goes to Bourbon County at end of 1802. This might be why he gave up rights to his land shortly after he took out his right to it. See the abstract below.
John Sears purchased land in Muhlenberg 27 Sep 1802 "John Sears this day claimed a right to four hundred acres of land on the waters of Green River agreeably to entry filed which is granted him accordingly." pg 263.
This land was then given up on 28 Sep 1802. The following deed tells the information. Jacob Sears is signing this deed. Jacob Sears is in Bourbon County, Kentucky this same year by 16 December 1802
page 72 Sears to Graves
Know all men by these presents that I John Sears of the State of Kentucky and County of Muhlenberg for divire consideration and good causes me hereunto moving have made +ordained constituted and appointed and by these precents do make and ordain constitute and appoint my trat and truety friend John Sanders Graves for net and in my name to make a deed ( or assign over a certificate viz my headright of 400 acres lying on Green River obtained at the court of Muhlenberg in September 1801 to Philip Graves provided the said Graves shall pay the state price and other charges that may be here thereon and I do hereby ratify + confirm whatever my said attorney shall lawfully do or cause to be done me in about the premises about or concerning said land . In witness where of I have hereunto let my hand and affixed my seal this 28th of Sept 1802
Teste Wm Wooton Isaac Davis Wm Roarke Jacob Sears (his mark) (signed by)
John Sears (his mark) seal
Muhlenberg County Sct to the office March 21st 1803
This power of attorney was proved to be the act and deed of John Sears a party thereto by the oath of William Wooton William Roark, two of the subseribing Witnesses thereto and the same is truly recorded.
Johannes Zaher (John Sears) last known record is the following where the land in Muhlenberg is recorded as improved and therefore John Sears land. But it appears by the above document John Sears had John Sanders Graves take care of the land and when he died his nephew Philip Graves Jr. inherited his estate which included taking care of land. The next time the land was discussed was two documents down in 1844 where ownership had to be established.
Muhlenberg CO KY, Land Claims photocopied by Gayle R. Carver Indexed by Brenda Collier Doss V1 1801-1806 pg 94-95
John Sears entered four hundred acres of land and his certificate 338 granted by the county court of Muhlenberg at their September term 1802 and located as follows To Wit on the waters of Green River Beginning at a beech corner of Philip Graves two hundred and survey runing thence with the said line S50 W 126 poles to a beech Graves corner thence 127 W 4 poles to a hickory Hams corner then with said Hams line N70 E 88 poles to a beech Hams corner thence with said ine S20 E 204 poles to an ash and gum thence S75 E 32 poles to a whiteoak thence N75 E 120 poles to a beech and sugar tree and the bank of Green River thence down the river with the meander N5 W 80 poles & N5 E 40 poles N 20 860 poles and ? 110 poles & N 31 W 100 poles & N 75 W 100 poles to a beech on the bank of the river thence S 21 E 140 poles to the beginning Recorded October 3rd 1807.
The following land record of the Ferguson Court records of 1844 Muhlenberg combined with other records shows that Johannes is the father of this family and not Christian. Christian is one of his sons. It lists all the other children except Ann who is in George Hastings Sears Story and John Sears (1749)
. John Jr was died by 1839 so not listed in 1844 document.
Swiss wife Name Unknown
Barbara Miller Zaher
Barbara Sears Shulse*
Elizabeth Sears Martin*
Christian Sears (1742 - 1843)*
John Sears (1749 - 1839)*
Mary Sears Hunsinger (1762 - 1861)*
Catherine Sears Harmon (1765 - 1860)*
Esther Sears Peebler (1768 - 1863)*
Susannah Sears White (1769 - 1855)*
Samuel Sears (1769 - 1846)*
Susannah Sears White (1769 - 1855)*
Frances Sears Imbler (1770 - 1858)*
Jacob Sears (1773 - 1859)*
Daniel Sears (1778 - ____)*
East Union Cemetery
Created by: PJS
Record added: Dec 02, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 81440219
7th Great Grandfatherstarting with my momSharon, Betty, Pauline, Albert, Adam, Benjamin, Michael, John, johannes|
Added: Mar. 29, 2015
This is my 4th great grandfather|
Added: Aug. 24, 2014
Maternal Sixth Great Grandfather|
Added: Jul. 22, 2014
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