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