Christian Hoffarth and Elizabeth Keim

- by Alice Marie Beard

The 18-year marriage of Christian Hoffarth (1716-1788) and Elizabeth Keim (1723-1764) produced seven children. When they married, he was about 29; she was about 22.

Elizabeth's year of death is presumed from the fact that she gave birth to a son in August 1762, and Christian's second wife gave birth to a daughter in 1764. Elizabeth vanished from the records after her seventh child was born.

Genealogists had long thought that all seventeen of Christian's children had the same mother, a woman named Anna Catharine who was Christian's wife when he died in 1788. The initial clue that the first seven children had a different mother is in the confirmation records for Christian's first seven children. For the oldest seven children, under "parent," the pastor recorded only Christian's name. However, for children after the first seven, when they were confirmed, the record noted both Christian and his second wife, Anna Catharine.

The definitive proof that Christian had a previous marriage is found in a quit claim deed on Elizabeth's late father's property. In it she is named as the wife of Christian Hoffart. Dated 29-Apr-1762, titled "Release John Kihm [Keim] to George Kihm [Keim]." It is a quit-claim deed for the 200-acre plantation in Oley Township, Berks Co., PA, formerly owned by Elizabeth's father Johannes KEIM. The opening clause of the deed follows:

This indenture, made the 29th day of April, 1762, between John Kihm, Stephen Kihm, Nicholas Kihm, John Henry Schneider and Catherine his wife (late Catherine Kihm), Christian Hoffart and Elisabeth his wife (late Elisabeth Kihm), Jacob Kihm, Conrad Kihm, Jacob Yoder and Maria his wife (late Maria Kihm), Michael Witman and Barbara his wife (late Barbara Kihm) and Frederick Hung and Susannah his wife (late Susannah Kihm), hiers and representatives of John Kihm, late of Oley, in the County of Berks and Province of Penna., deceased of the one part and George Kihm, of Oley aforesaid Yeoman, of the other part.

At least their first child was born in Lancaster Co., PA. Their last child was born in Frederick Co., MD. Where the other children were born in unknown.

By 4-Nov-1762, the family was established in Frederick Co., MD, where Christian signed a 21-year lease on a small parcel of land, small enough that it was likely the place to live and not the land to farm.

The owner of the ten acres that Christian leased was the English royal Lord Baltimore. The land was managed by a governor appointed by the English lord. Since the land in Monocacy Manor was not available for purchase, farmers signed long-term leases on plots of land. After the Revolutionary War, the Maryland General Assembly took possession of the land because it had been owned by the British Lord, who obviously had sided with the British in the war. The long-term leases were voided, and the land was divided and sold.

In addition to the ten acres Christian leased in November 1762, he had a long-term lease on 193 acres. On 10-Oct-1781, that long-term lease was sold to one Maj. Davidson for 1,300 pounds. The major paid with Army pay certificates that he had been granted as a soldier of the "Maryland line."

From Poverty in a Land of Plenty, Tenancy in Eighteenth Century Maryland, by Gregory A. Stiverson, pub. by Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1977, at page 132:

The auction of the Manor was held at Grost's Tavern in Frederick Town on September 10, 1782, and the tenants who assembled for the sale, many of whom were first generation German immigrants who had worked hard improving their leaseholds, must have been appalled at the number of high-ranking army officers and affluent storekeepers who had come to bid against them for their land. Monocacy tenants were among the most prosperous of any on the proprietary manors, and yet few could hope to compete with men who could pay for land with certificates that had been acquired for only a fraction of face value.

By the time Christian was dealt that blow, he was 66. He was also the father of a two-year-old daughter. In another six years, Christian was dead. His will was found by a determined genealogist who had been granted permission to rummage around in the attic of the Frederick Co., MD, courthouse. It was found in Will Book GM #2, pp. 289-290. All seventeen children were named in the will:

IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN. I Christian Huffert of Frederick County and State of Maryland, Farmer, being weak in Body but of sound disposing -- Mind and Memory Thanks be Given unto God, calling unto mind the Moratality of my Body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form Following: that is to say, principally and first of all, I give and Recommend my Soul into the Hands of Almighty God that gave it, and my Body I Recommend to the Earth, to be buried in decent Christian Burial at the Discretion of my Executors nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection, I shall receive the same again by the mighty Power of God. And as touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to Bless me in this life; I Give, demise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form. First, I desire that all my Just debts be contented and paid within Convenient Time after my decease. Item: I Give and Bequeath to my Well Beloved Wife Ann Huffert besides her thirds my bed with its furniture whereon we now lie also a Cow and Calf and her Spinning Wheel. The rest of my Estate both Real and Personal I leave to be Sold at publick Sale and the Moneys arising therefrom to be (after my Wife's part is deducted) divided among my Children in the following manner: Item. I Give and Bequeath to my daughter Rebecca Huffert, the Sum of ten pounds Current Money. Item: I Give and Bequeath to my Daughter Barbara Huffert the Sum of ten pounds Current Money, the above Legacys I leave to be paid to my two Children above named, as soon as the Estate is Settled and the Children Shall come to age, by my Executors. The Rest of my Estate, after my just debts and Legacies are paid and my Wife's Third is deducted; I leave to be equally divided among my Seventeen Children. Namely: Christian, Christiana, Philip, Margaret, Daniel, John, Casper, Catharina, George [hard to read after sealing of will], Elizabeth, Adam, Hannah, Jacob, Susanna, Magdalene, Rebecca, and Barbara Hufferts. And I Nominate and Appoint my Trusty and Well Beloved Son in Law Adam Creigher my Executor of this my Last Will and Testament hereby Revolking all other Wills by me heretofore made, ratifying and Confirming this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament in Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my Hand and Seal.

The burial sites of both Christian and Elizabeth are lost to history.

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