Eller Genealogy


George Eller Genealogy

The Eller family is a very old and honorable one in Germany. According to Siebmacher the name in the middle ages was spelled Elner. The family was one of the most distinguished in the Rhineland. Its ancestral seat was near Dusseldorf from whence the family spread to Westphalia and south to the Rhineland Provinces. One branch, at a very early date, settled in Eastern Prussia near Danzig, where Joachim Eller confirmed the family emblem of nobility in 1600.

The name and emblem of the Dusseldorf family was adopted by a branch of the Baron von Eberstein family which was heir to some of the Eller estates and in 18i9 the emblems of the two families were combined for Carl Heinrich Christian Wilhelm von Eberstein, Royal Prussian Major, universal heir of his Uncle Drosten Christian Ludwig von Eller, who was the last of that name to carry on the baronetcy title.

Many members of the Eller family from the time of the first crusade were in possession of high orders of dignity, one of whom was General Major Wolf Ernst von Elner, Chief of a Regiment and Governor of Minden. He died in the year 1680. The name is also found in many other distinguished places; among writers, physicians, teachers and explorers. Frederick Eller was private physician to Frederick the Great.

Some members of the family seem to have been among the first to accept the teachings of the Reformation. Some were followers of Kaspar Schwenkfeldt and remained loyal to the Schwenkfeldian faith to the end. The Dusseldorf family for the most part were Lutheran, but when the Dunkard faith was organized in 1708 many joined and underwent the persecution that destroyed the sect in Germany and forced a nucleus of the more ardent members to emigrate to America and reestablish their church on the free soil of Pennsylvania.

It is said that the Eller emigrants to America between 1740 and 1750 were Dunkards, or descendants of that faith. They were, indeed, non-Lutheran Protestants who accepted the Baptist Church after their settlement in America. They may have been Dunkards, but it is more probable that they were Ronsdorfers, a sect founded by Elias Eller of Elberfeld in 1727. The disciples of this sect underwent the usual persecution meted out to nonconformists and in 1737 sought isolation on the estate of one of their comrades about thirty miles east of Dusseldorf. Here they founded the now prosperous town of Ronsdorf and initiated some of the industries for which the city to-day is well known.

The Ronsdorf sect believed in the millennium, but due to the intolerance of strong contemporary religious belief it met with vigorous persecution and scarcely survived its founder, who died in 1750. Many of its members came to America between 1737 and 175o, and settled in Pennsylvania, and among them, no doubt, were the Eller immigrants, the ancestors of the early Eller families of North Carolina.

It is to be regretted that these early Ellers f ailed to leave a written record of their families, thus requiring the present generation of descendants to depend upon tradition and county records for a history of their ancestors. Fortunately, in most cases, records and traditions confirm each other, but dates in many cases are lacking and are, perhaps, lost forever.

Tradition, which is well borne out by county records, says that the early Eller family of North Carolina was founded by Jacob, Christian and Melchoir Eller, who left their homes near Dusseldorf, Germany, between 1745 and 175o and emigrated to the State of Pennsylvania, where a brother, George, and other Eller kin had settled some years previously. Importation records help to bear out this tradition. The published list o f foreigners in Pennsylvania who took the oath of allegiance gives the names of George Eller and Christian Eller, both from Rotterdam, the former landing in Philadelphia from the ship "St. Andrew," October 7, 1743, and the latter landing also in Philadelphia from the ship "Restauration," October 9, 1747. No importation records are found of Jacob or Melchoir Eller, but a record of Henry Eller, landing October 25, 1747, and Michael and Johan George, landing in 1743, and 1740, respectively, are given. Other Ellers landed after 1760.

Tradition also states that Jacob, Christian, Melchoir, George and Henry were brothers; that the first three named, after living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, for a few years, joined the great migration that was pouring down the Shenandoah Valley into Western North Carolina and settled in Rowan County on the grants of the Earl of Granville to Governor Dobbs, about 1754. The brothers George and Henry remained in Pennsylvania and raised families, some sons of which engaged in the struggle for independence and later settled in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. A Peter Eller, who was living in Wilkes County, with a large family, in 1790, seems to have come from Pennsylvania and to have been granted land in both Wilkes and Rowan Counties. He disposed of his property in Wilkes County and returned to Rowan County in 1795.

Jacob Eller, who died in 1782, in Rowan County, North Carolina, was the eldest brother, and married twice. His first wife was Eve Gitchey, daughter of John and Christina Gitchey (see Will of John Gitchey on file in Rowan County, N. C.), whom he married in Pennsylvania, and who bore him sons and daughters as follows: (1) Jacob, who moved to Eastern Tennessee and raised a family; (2) Joseph, a Revolutionary War soldier, who moved to Eastern Tennessee, married, and of issue had a son, John; (3) Henry, who died in Rowan County in 1822; (4) Christian, who reared a family in Rowan County; (5) John Melchoir, a Revolutionary War soldier, who served under General Lincoln, and who married and raised sons and daughters in Rowan County named John, Jacob, David and Christina; (6) Eve, and probably others. Jacob Eller, Sr., married, secondly, Barbary (probably) Eary, by whom he had two children, as follows: (1) Frederick, born 1766; (2) Elizabeth, born 1773.

(See Jacob Eller's Will; Book B, p. 145, Rowan Co., N. C.; also old Rowan Co. Court Records.)

Christian Eller, the second brother in age, came to Philadelphia from Rotterdam on the ship "Restauration," landing October 9, 1747. Tradition says-that he came with his wife and sons, John and George. His wife died soon after arrival in Rowan County, North Carolina, and he married, secondly, Mary, daughter of Paul and Catherine Beefle (see Will of Paul Beefle, Rowan County, N. C., written 1764, probated 1777), an English family of the Parish of St. Luke's, in Rowan County, whose other children were Catherine, Adam, Valentine, Martin and Margaret.

The Christian Eller family lived on land which bordered on Crane Creek, which flows into the Yadkin River east of Salisbury. Like his brother, Jacob, Christian Eller was an educated man, who seemed to be a master of the English language from his earliest appearance in North Carolina. He did not actively join in the Regulator movement, but his sympathies were with the overburdened and unfairly taxed colonists who were finally subdued by the Royal Governor Tryon at Alamance in 1771. He enlisted for service in the Revolutionary War and it is said accompanied one of the southern detachments throughout the memorable campaigns that ended triumphantly at Yorktown. He died in April, 1804. He named the following children in his will: (1) John; (2) George; (3) Henry; (4) Frederick; (5) Susanna; (6) Mary Wattinger and (7) Barbara Hess. Tradition states that he also had a son, Peter. Susanna married John Eller in 1782. Mary married Mr. Wattinger and Barbara married Mr. Hess.

John Eller, son of Christian, married late in life (probably) Margaret Lemly, but had no issue. He died in 1820 and left a will in which he mentioned his sister, Susanna, who had married John Eller, and John Eller, son of John Melcher Eller. He also mentioned his wife, Margaret.

George Eller, son of Christian, was married about 1768 to Christina Buhlen (or Bullen). After the rout at Alamance he joined with many others in taking the oath of Allegiance to King George. This oath he held inviolable, and when the Revolution broke out he and his wife, Christina, were put under bond to keep the peace. Martin Beefle and John Bullen were their bondsmen. Thereafter he was hauled into court regularly for several years for minor offenses, after which he moved with his family to Montgomery County, Virginia, and settled on the waters of Elk Creek, in what is now Grayson County. Here he lived until his death in 1805. His children were: (1) John; (2) Peter; (3) Jacob; (4) Henry; and (5) George, and a daughter, who married a Pennington, and moved to Georgia.

Henry Eller, son of Christian, died in Wyeth County, Virginia, in 1838, without issue. His Will, probated February 11, 1839, mentions his wife, Jane, and his brothers, Frederick and George. He left a large estate.

Frederick Eller, son of Christian, lived first in Rowan County, then in Virginia. He had sons, George and Frederick, and a daughter, Margaret, and probably other children.

No record has been found of the families of Christian's daughters, Susanna, Mary and Barbara, except that the daughter, Susanna, married her cousin, John Eller, probably Melchoir's son.

Melchoir Eller, brother of Jacob and Christian, married Elizabeth, daughter of John and Christina Gitchey, and lived on a farm adjoining that of his brother, Christian, on Crane Creek, Rowan County. His children were: (1) Melchoir; (2) Jacob; (3) George; (4) Leonard; (5) Henry; (6) John, and several daughters.

The marriage records of Rowan County for the period after 1800 indicate that the descendants of the above Eller progenitors swarmed in great numbers over Rowan and adjacent counties. The attempt was made to find the place of them all in this genealogy, but the task proved altogether too great and was soon abandoned. This genealogy, therefore, begins with the sons of George, son of Christian, all of whom, except George, lived and raised families in Ashe and Wilkes Counties, North Carolina.

The sons of George and Christina Eller, as previously stated, were John, Peter, Jacob, Henry and George, Jr. John's son, David, who was born in 1796, confirmed the ancestry of his father's family to his grand-nephew, judge William H. Eller, late of Greensboro, North Carolina. He stated that his great-grandfather, Chrissy Eller, a German Anabaptist, or Dunkard, came to Rowan County, North Carolina, from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, before 1765, and that his grandfather, George Eller, moved from Rowan County, to Franklin County, Virginia, about 1778 and died there about 18o5. He told many interesting anecdotes of his early life, one of which described the trip taken with his father and mother by covered wagon through the Blue Ridge Mountains into Virginia to attend his grandfather's funeral. He was a lad of about nine years when this trip was taken and many things impressed him; none more, however, than the high wagon gate at the entrance to his grandfather's barnyard.

All that David Eller said is borne out by documentary records, except the date at which George Eller and his wife, Christina, moved to Virginia, and the County to which they moved. Records indicate that they moved to Virginia about 1784 and that they settled on the waters of Elk Creek, Montgomery County (now Grayson County) in 1789, on one hundred acres of land granted to George Eller by the Commonwealth of Virginia, October 20, 1789. The same parcel of land (description identical) together with an adjoining parcel of 300 acres was sold by George Eller, Sr., and his wife, Christina, to Martin Dickenson on March 22, 1802.

Tradition tells us that George Eller was a Baptist preacher, and that after the defeat of the Regulators, in 1771, he took the oath of allegiance to King George the Third, which he would not renounce. When the Colonial Assembly demanded of the inhabitants that they take the oath of allegiance to the State of North Carolina, George Eller and his wife, Christina, refused and accordingly were hauled into court and tried. They both were indicted in the March Superior Court of 1778 and released on bond of 300, divided, 200 for him, and 100 for her. John Bullen and Martin Beefle signed as bondsmen.

They were both found guilty by the court at its session the following September and fined small amounts. Thereafter he was frequently in court for small offenses, until 1784, when all record of him in Rowan County ceases. Wearying of what he thought was persecution by the courts, he moved with his family into Virginia. Here he fell in with many old friends who had fled to Virginia after Alamance, and for several years preached to them and their neighbors who were settled along the banks of New River. He had very strong convictions, and while not an educated man, could read his German Bible and preach in that language as well as in English.

It was, no doubt, these pilgrimages down the New River into what is now Ashe County, North Carolina, that acquainted his sons with the fertile valleys and streams that nestle there in the lap of the Blue Ridge Mountains. John and Peter moved there about 1793. Jacob and Henry followed about 1812. George seems to have moved with his widowed mother back to Rowan County, where his identity among so many others of the same name became confused and lost.



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