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Phifer Family History: Switzerland to America

Replies: 13

Phifer Family History: Switzerland to America

Posted: 975490574000
Edited: 994017982000
Hello Fellow Listers. My husband's cousin, Gerald Phifer just sent to this. I hope that it will be helpful to some of you. My husband comes from the New Jersey Phifer line. Happy Researching.
Peace and blessings. Dolores Cobb Phifer


The Early History The reputed first "Phifer" to immigrate to the "New World" was Martin and his younger brother John. According to a book entitled "Lives and Times of the Twenty Seven Signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Martin and John were born in Berne, Switzerland. In 1737, they sailed for America. The circumstances surrounding this bold, peril-laden venture are not known. But what ever may have been the impetus, they nevertheless landed at Philadelphia ten months later. They were of the Lutheran Faith, and according to the signature of Martin on his will, spelled his name "Pifer". Through a misinterpretation of their signatures, however; when their wills were probated, the name was spelled "Phifer" after the English manner. The “f” was hooked up with the “p” as if to form an “h”---so the name is spelled "Phifer" today! Martin eventually settled in the Mecklenburg, Virginia area. Martin's son, also named John, was a future signer of the "Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence" a precursor to the National Declaration of Independence. Martin's younger brother John also reportedly settled in Virginia, but of him there is no record. It is possible that John moved back to the Philadelphia area and started this branch of the family.

Archable Phifer
The first Phifer in the Delaware Valley was found in the 1830 census which lists Archable Phifer as living in Franklin Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey (166). He lists himself as being between 40-50, with one son between 5-10, two sons between 10-15, one daughter between 10-15, with a wife who is between 40-50 and with one additional female between 90-100.
Also listed in the 1830 census is a Jonathan Phifer, son of Archable Phifer. In addition, the census also lists an Adam Phifer, possibly the son of Archable Phifer and brother of Jonathan Phifer. Both Jonathan and Adam lived in Franklin Township in 1830, apparently with or near their father Archable. All three of them have a census number of 166. Jonathan lists himself as being between 20-30, with two daughters between 0-5, and with a wife who is between 20-30. Adam Phifer lists himself as being between 20-30, with one son between 0-5, and with a wife who is between 20-30.

In a book named "History of Lehigh County, PA.", a section labeled "Phifer Family" indicates that a Adam Phifer, son of Archibald Phifer, was born in Weymouth, NJ on August 22, 1807. Adam Phifer moved to Easton, PA in 1845. He later moved to Catasaugua, where he was a furnace Keeper and worked at Rickets Furnace and later at Upper Mauch Chunk furnace. In 1855, he moved to Parryville until his death on October 16, 1865. He was married to Sarah Winthing who was born on July 1, 1806 and died on November 24, 1896. Their children include Archibald, born on March 20, 1831 and died on April 2, 1902; Robert N., born on June 19, 1836 and died on June 4, 1872; Mary Elizabeth, born on February 10, 1840; and John W., born on July 27, 1848. This article does not mention Jonathan Phifer; however, it does mention that Archibald's father (unnamed) was killed in the revolutionary war.
Jonathan and Margaret Phifer

Jonathan Phifer was born on December 4, 1806,. and passed away on August 8, 1866. According to records, he was born in Weymouth, Gloucester County, NJ, and died in Lumberton, Burlington County, NJ. He is interred in the Evergreen Cemetery next to his wife Margaret and at least two sons, John and Samuel Phifer. Others may be buried there; however, records are incomplete and the tombstones have worn over time. Margaret, Jonathan's wife was born Margaret Matthews of Mommouth County, NJ. They were married on February 17, 1827 by John Woolson, Minister of the Gospel, a traveling Methodist Episcopal Minister connected with the Port Elizabeth Methodist Episcopal Church (West Orange Circuit). In 1807, the Cumberland Circuit was formed and John Woolson was appointed preacher. Margaret passed away on April 3, 1885. Children by this marriage included Samuel R. Phifer, born in June, 1844 and passed away on November 27, 1883; John R. Phifer, born in 1827 and passed away on February 12, 1889; Elizabeth Phifer McCray of Wabash, Ind.; Sarah R. Phifer Devinne of Mays Landing, NJ, Alexander J. Phifer, of Westport, PA; and George C. Phifer of Philadelphia, PA. The 1860 Census indicates that the occupation of Jonathan, son Samuel, and son Alexander as "Iron Moulder". Son George was listed as "attending school". The value of Jonathan's real estate was listed at $200.00. This Census indicates Jonathan's birth year as 1808, Margaret's as 1808, Samuel's as 1835, Alexander's as 1840 and George as 1842. An article published in the March 14, 1827 Woodbury Village Herald indicates that Jonathan and Margaret were married in Weymouth, Gloucester County, NJ. It must be noted that in 1837, Atlantic County was split from Gloucester County. This explains why early records indicate Gloucester County and later records indicate Atlantic County. Little or nothing is known about the children of Jonathan and Margaret except Samuel died of Cancer of the Pancreas and was never married. He died without a will; however, distribution of his property was made and all siblings were named in the distribution. At the time of Samuel's death, he was living in Hainsport, NJ. His mother Margaret, widowed in 1866, was living in Mays Landing, possibly with her daughter Sarah R. Devinne. When Jonathan died on August 30, 1866, his death Certificate listed his age at 67, married, occupation as "Moulder", place of death in Lumberton, NJ, place of birth as unknown and listed the cause of death as Cholera. The age at death on the death certificate does not agree with other records. The age at death would indicate that he was born somewhere around 1799/1800.

John R. and Sarah A. Phifer
John R. Phifer, son of Jonathan and Margaret Phifer was born in 1827 in Weymouth, NJ. On September 12, 1866, John married Sarah A. Cadwell. They were married in Mt. Holly, NJ and both resided in Lumberton, NJ. In the 1880 Census, the children of John and Sarah were listed as Harry H. Phifer, age 19; Thomas C. Phifer, Age 13; Mary E. Phifer, age 10; Kate J. Phifer, age 6; and Albert H. age 2. All were born in New Jersey and all resided in Lumberton, Burlington County, NJ. Birth records were found for Thomas and Albert. Thomas was born on May 10, 1867, which agrees with the 1880 Census records. His parents names were listed as John and Sarah Phifer, occupation of father was listed as "Moulder", and residence was listed as Lumberton, NJ. Albert's birth record indicates he was born Albert D. Phifer on September 20, 1876 in Lumberton, NJ. The 1880 Census would indicate the date of birth as in 1878; however, the birth record is probably correct. The names and occupation of parents agree with his brother Thomas. Other birth or death records were not found; however, Harry's birth date in 1861 or 1863 predates the marriage date of John and Sarah in 1866. Harry's death notice in January 23, 1934 edition of the Norristown Times Herald indicates surviving brothers and sister as Mayme Greenwalt of Hainsport, NJ, Katie Kelly of Mt. Holly NJ and Albert Phifer. These names agree with the 1880 Census. The 1880 Census also indicated age 45 for John and 37 for Sarah. These dates would indicate 1835 birth year for John and 1843 for Sarah. As mentioned previously, the marriage information indicates a birth date for John as 1836 and 1844 for Sarah. However, John's military records during the Civil War indicate a birth year as 1831. Neither the actual birth record of John or Sarah was found.

John's Civil War record indicates he volunteered in the Union Army on August 31, 1864 in Camden, New Jersey. He was mustered in Company "C", 2nd Regiment of the New Jersey Calvary for a one year enlistment. On John's enlistment forms, he indicates his occupation as a "Moulder" and that he was born in Atlantic County. As previously mentioned, "Atlantic County" was known as Gloucester County when he was born but was later changed in 1838. It is apparent that John Phifer could not write or sign his own name. His mark "X” was placed between the signed name on the records. The records also indicate his eyes as blue, dark hair and dark complexion. At the time of enlistment, he was five foot, five and three quarter inches tall. It appears that he was paid $100.00 bounty for the one year enlistment and served in Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi. It must also be noted that the occupation of this John Phifer and the age at the time of enlistment agree with other previous records. John R. Phifer is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Lumberton, New Jersey, next to his parents Jonathan and Margaret and his brother Samuel. It is not known where Sarah is buried; however, most of the cemetery records are missing and other tombstones, worn with time, are located in the Phifer Family plot. There does appear that at least one of these worn stones has the name of SARAH inscribed. In front of John’s grave is a metal marker with a five pointed star on the top. Within this star are the letters "GAR" which stands for "GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC". This indicates that he was a Civil War veteran which agrees with his Civil War Army records. Also inscribed on John's tombstone, to the best that I could read it, is the following: "Go Go Regt N Joly". The rest of the tombstone with the exception of his name is worn blank. It is possible that the inscription could mean "CO C, 2nd Regiment, New Jersey", which was his Civil War Army Regiment.
The apparent discrepancy of Harry's birth date in 1861 or 1863 versus the marriage date of his parents, John and Sarah in 1866, remains a mystery. However, in the Gloucester County Historical Society, on record under the "Phifer" name, is a indication that John was married twice. His first wife may have died after the birth of Harry. A "John R. Phifer" married a woman named Virginia V. King on December 27, 1854. It was later confirmed that in fact Virginia V. king was the first wife of John R. Phifer and that John and Virginia were the parents of my grand father Harry Phifer. This was confirmed in a document where Sara, John’s second wife, applied for John’s military pension. On the application, it was noted that Virginia, “now deceased,” was the first wife of John. To this date, Harry's birth records have not been located.
Other differences that were uncovered was in the 1870 Census. This Census indicates that John was 45 years old and that wife Sarah was 25 years old, both born in New Jersey, John being a foundry worker. Children listed in this census include Thomas, age 8; Mary, age 3; and Harrie E., age 1/12. Albert and Kate would not have been born as of this Census. I cannot explain what the age indication of Harrie means.

Harry H. and Elizabeth Phifer
Harry H. Phifer, son of John and Virginia (JohnÂ’s first wife), was born on December 4, 1863 or 1861 in Lumberton, New Jersey. on January 1, 1889 he married Elizabeth Grebe, a dressmaker, who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time of their wedding, Harry resided at 1265 Master Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and his occupation was listed as a "Moulder". Elizabeth resided at 901 N. Dauphin Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the 1900 Census, Harry and Elizabeth lived in a rented house at 176 Main Street, Lansdale, Pennsylvania. They later lived in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Harry and Elizabeth were married at St. Mark's Evangelical Reformed Church in Philadelphia. Children by this marriage include Frank Conard, born December 2, 1900 and died on October 27, 1977; John Henry Phifer, born December 17, 1961; and died on__________ George August Phifer, born on _________; and died on February 5, 1977; Harry Howard Phifer, born January 31, 1896, and died on May 25, 1979; William Phifer, born on _________and died on________; Anna Marie Phifer Geyer, born on ________and died on December 6, 1985; and Jennie Christina Phifer Brush, born on ________, and died on___________. Church records at the Ascension German Reformed Church, now know as the Ascension United Church of Christ on Main Street in Jeffersonville, Pennsylvania, indicate that Frank Conard Phifer, Harry Howard Phifer and Anna Marie Phifer were baptized as Christians on March 24, 1907. Jennie Christina Phifer, John Henry Phifer and George August Phifer were all Confirmed in the church on March 28, 1907. On October 16, 1933, Elizabeth died of a cerebral hemorrhage and Harry followed on January 14, 1934 of a heart attack. Harry was a member of a social club called "The Beaver Tribe of Redman" located in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania. Both Harry and Elizabeth along with eight other family member are buried in Riverside Cemetery in West Norriton Township, Pennsylvania. At the time of their death they lived with Frank and Helen Phifer on Airy Street in Norristown. Elizabeth was survived by three sisters, Mrs Thomas Grebe Parker of Royersford; Mrs. Edward Grebe Way and Anna Grebe of Lansdowne; three brothers, Conrad and George Grebe of Chestnut Hill and Harry Grebe of Philadelphia.

Frank Conard and Helen Ann Phifer
Frank Phifer, son of Harry and Elizabeth Phifer, was born on December 2, 1900 in ___________Pennsylvania. Frank Married Helen Ann Adamavage of Ashland, Pennsylvania an October 14, 1929 in Reading, Pennsylvania in a Civil Marriage. A church wedding followed on________________at_____________in Pennsylvania. Over the years of marriage Frank and Helen lived at 144 W. Airy Street, Norristown, 148 W. Airy street, Norristown, 121 Joseph Street, and 123 Lincoln Terrace in West Norriton Township. Frank died of heart failure on October 27, 1977 and Helen, also of heart failure, on April 6, 1985. Helen Ann was born on February 7, 1911 and was a practical nurse at the Norristown State Hospital when she met Frank. Joseph and Margaret Adamavage, the parents of Helen, both immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in the early part of the 20th century. Helen had five sisters; Mary, Clair, Violet, Jean and Bina, and three brothers; Frank, Andrew and Joseph. Joseph, Helen's father, was killed in a coal mine accident on ________________and Margaret, mother of Helen, died of old age on__________, in Ashland, Pennsylvania.

Deleted for privacy reasons, some because some are still living.

Richard James and Kathy Louise Phifer
Submitter to Dolores Cobb Phifer from Gerald Phifer on 11/27/2000

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
DoloresCP33 975490574000 
Scott Phifer 983276068000 
romaine andaloro 983895097000 
Sandy5228 1033314885000 
niterythm 1327619053000 
barnbarn9 1327689787000 
niterythm 1327694364000 
niterythm 1328888127000 
barnbarn9 1328926733000 
niterythm 1328929277000 
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