Susanna Klaar
John Blankenbaker

In the Vol. 3, No. 3 issue of Beyond Germanna (May 1991), Margaret Brown Altendahl wrote about Susanna Clore Weaver Crigler Yager (using the English version of these names). As implied by the four surnames, Susanna Klaar (her maiden name in Germany) was married three times. She, with her first husband and their family, were members of the Colony of 1717.

Some of this information has become known only since 1989. Furthermore, two daughters have been confirmed in recent years and marriage partners for four daughters have been identified, some for the first time. Her story is a testimony to research.

On 26 January 1706, Susanna Klaar married Phillip Joseph Weber in Gemmingen, Baden. She was born before the church records for Gemmingen began but another record allows us to put her birth year at about 1692. Thus, she was not very old when she married Joseph Weber. The Gemmingen birth records show that six children were born to the couple in 1707, 1708, 1709, 1710, 1713, and 1715. The first three died at a very young age and the sixth died not far past his first birthday. The two surviving children were Hans Dieterich (Peter) and Maria Sophia born in 1710 and 1713, respectively. At least one more daughter in this family was born after the departure from Gemmingen.

When the families from Gemmingen left in 1717, the sexton at the church made an entry in the church book noting their departure. For the Webers, it was (translated):

“Joseph Weber and wife Susanna. He is 30 and she is 25 years old.
Hannss Dieterich, seven years old (he was studying for his confirmation).
Sophia, not yet four years old, an infant [i.e., too young for confirmation].”

[The ages for Joseph and Susanna may have been estimates.] One other family who left at the same time was Susanna’s brother Michael Klaar, his wife Maria Barbara, and their family. The sexton gave the reason that the families were leaving which reads in translation:

“On July 12th of this year the below listed parents including their children moved away from here at night with the intention to sail over to Pennsylvania in order to earn their piece of bread better than here through the hard work of cultivating the wilderness. Yet quite many people went away not only from here but also from other places, and all went with the same intention.”

The group that left was unfortunate in their choice of a ship and captain who took them not to Pennsylvania but to Virginia. The Weavers, as they became known in Virginia, were indentured to Alexander Spotswood who placed them along the north side of the Rapidan River just above Germanna. Later they moved to the Robinson River Valley “at the Great Mountains.” Spotswood later used their headrights in payment for a tract of land. There the Weaver family appears as:

Joseph Wever,
Susanna Wever,
Hans Fredich Wever,
Maria Sophia Wever,
Wabburie Wever.

This is the only record in Virginia where the name of Joseph Weber appears. The last name in this list of five does not appear in the Gemmingen church records so the best assumption is she was born en route to America. The name Wabburie is most likely a nickname for Walburga. Later in life, she became known as Burga and appears as such in the “Hebron” church records. There is no evidence that any children were born to Joseph and Susanna after arrival in America.

With the death of Joseph Weaver, Susanna Clore Weaver married Jacob Crigler. (The German spelling of Crigler is unknown.) To this union, four surviving children were born:

There had been speculation that Jacob and Susanna had at least one daughter Margaret but the evidence for this was erroneous. By an intensive analysis of the German Lutheran Church records (“Hebron”), it is possible to say with a high probability, better than most cases, that there were the two daughters.

Jacob Crigler died about 1734 when Susanna was appointed administratrix in April. She later married Nicholas Yeager. They had no children but the church records show that the earlier children of Susanna were very much at home in the Yeager home.

At least eleven children born to Susanna have been identified. Seven of these lived to become active and reproductive members of the Germanna community.

The oldest child was Peter Weaver who converted his calling name of Dieterich to Dieter and then to Peter as a close English sound. Peter married Elizabeth. Some people believe that they have identified Elizabeth’s family but I’ll refrain from repeating it, not because I think it is wrong but because I have never made a study of the case. The Germanna Records have identified Peter Weaver as a “later comer” but this is clearly an error as he did arrive in 1717.

Maria Sophia Weaver, the second child, married Peter Fleshman. The analysis, quite involved but very conclusive, shows this to be the case (see Beyond Germanna, Vol. 13, No. 5, p. 767). Very extensive use of the church records (Baptisms and Communicants) was made and shows the power of association among people as indicators of relationships.

Burga or Wabburie were probably nicknames for Walburga (Weaver). She married John Willheit, son of Michael Willheit the early immigrant. Germanna Record 13 says John’s wife was Margaret (Peggy) Weaver, the daughter of Peter and Mary (Huffman) Weaver, Jr. The problem with this assignment is that John’s wife would have been younger than some of her children. By using the headright record above and the church records, it is possible to say John Willheit’s wife was Walburga Weaver. An extensive analysis of this situation was made in Beyond Germanna, Vol. 6, No. 3, p. 321.

Christopher Crigler, born prior to 1723 by the analysis of B. C. Holtzclaw, married Catherine Finks. He has eleven children given in the German Lutheran Church records.

Nicholas Crigler married Margaret Kaefer. The names of nine children, two of whom are dead, are given in the church records.

Susanna Crigler married Michael Utz. Susanna was probably older than her sister Elizabeth and both were probably younger than their two brothers. There is an outside chance that Susanna and Elizabeth were daughters of Joseph Weaver but when the ages of their spouses are considered, it is likely that they were daughters of Jacob Crigler (Beyond Germanna, Vol. 15, No. 3, p. 872).

Elizabeth Crigler married Michael Yager. Many records say that Michael Yager married Elizabeth Manspiel but there is no support for this idea. A detailed analysis of the church records shows that Elizabeth Crigler was the very probable wife of Michael Yager (Beyond Germanna, Vol. 15, No. 4, p. 869).

Germanna Record 6 suggests that Jacob and Susanna
Crigler had a daughter Margaret who married Henry Aylor. This is a mistake as Henry Aylor married Margaret Thomas.

At different times, many people have contributed to this research. The first published information on the Gemmingen church records was by Gary Zimmerman and Johni Cerny. Suggestions and analysis of the Virginia information were made by Craig Kilby, Nancy Dodge, and John Blankenbaker who wrote up the conclusions.

In the last fifteen years many errors connected with Susanna Clore have been corrected and omissions filled. The church records in Germany and in Virginia were extremely important in accomplishing this. Some of the information is given explicitly and much of it is given implicitly. The implicit information requires hours to draw out the conclusions but the value of the information is not weakened in any way. As to circumstantial evidence, “when the milk contains fish, you may assume that it has been watered.”

It is a help to study the community, not an individual family.

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