From Germany to America
1700-1865 , PA to TN
The Deerwechters, Thurwachers, Turwachters, Towwaters, Towaters, Come to America
Most of the information concerning my Towwater Family has been gleaned from my Aunt Mattie Allen Russell's letters and notes. Aunt Mattie and Uncle Tommy Russell were very prosperous farmers and lived south of Jackson, TN, on Riverside Road. She gave me my first family genealogy data 40 years ago. Because of those notes and internet technology, I have had the opportunity to communicate with other relatives and learn more about the Towwater, Tarwater, Towater,et.al. surname history. In 1988, Aunt Ruby Allen Davenport, Medina, TN, sent me a letter which included g grandmother Martha Jane Cannon Towwater’s Union Army Pension Record. She was entitled to this compensation because of her husband, Charlie Towwater. It verified his record of military service during the War Between the States. He was Aunt Mattie's and Aunt Ruby's grandfather. It appears my Towwater family was not educated. Census Records show they had no personal property or land of value. Therefore, they were farmers who rented, leased land, or were share croppers. This would indicate they could have owned tools, mules, horses or oxen to work the fields of the land owner and shared with the owner the profit of the crop for their labor. However, several of my grandmother’s Towwater family were considered to be very prosperous farmers and owned large tracts of land in Spring Creek, TN, north of Jackson. Some of my Dad's Towwater cousins were merchants and worked at various industries in the surrounding area of Jackson, TN.
The root origin of the family surname is German. It is an occupational name meaning; one who watches at the gate or door opening. Genealogy data suggest they emigrated in the 1700's from Germany to Philadelphia, PA, and took the oath of allegiance. Several family trees and researchers document their community in Germany as Freckenfeld. This is located in the southwestern region of the country. Towwater researchers have suggested the English speaking people recording the surname did not understand the German dialect or how to write the name. The surname variations have been numerous in the records: Deerwechter, Deerwester, Dierwaechter, Thurwacher, Theurwachter, Thierwachter, Tauvate, Tarwalter, Tarwater, Tiwater, Tywater, Towater, and Towwater. Subsequently, because of the difficulty of understanding the German dialect, the surname evolved to Tarwater and Towwater on many documents.
Records at St. Jacob’s Church, Brodbecks, York County, PA, show a Jacob Thurwachter b. 1748 and m. 1770, and his wife and children were baptized. Similar first names like Jacob, John, George, and Lewis are repeated numerous times in many of the family trees. The variations of the surname appear on deeds, militia records, land patents, census, wills, church rolls, tax lists, and land warrants. York County PA is about 20 miles from Lancaster, PA. This area has a major concentration of Amish, Mennonite, Huguenot, Lutheran and other minority religious group settlements of German ancestry. Therefore, a researcher of this region and family could infer the Towwaters were associated with emigration to America in search of freedom of religion, tolerance, persecution, and political stability.
This historical era would be during the development of the William Penn Colony. Randy Winbush and Doyle Tarman are the noted family researchers. They have documented the Towwater genealogy and other information in great detail. It is clear my family migrated from PA to TN and their first names were Peter, George, John, and John. My g grandfather and g grandmother were Martha Jane Cannon and CharlieTowwater. Charlie was a son of John Wesley Tarwater and Elizabeth Rachael Ann Harrison. My grandmother Sina Francis (Fanny) Towwater Allen lived to be 91 years of age. I remember visiting her on numerous occasions in Medina, TN. She was noted for her wit, humor and funny stories.