03 June 2008

Urban Aschenbrenner [1703-1795]

Urban Aschenbrenner came to America on 3 Dec 1740. He married Anna Maria Balty, the daughter of John Jacob Balty and Mary Sophia ?. See more below.

Children of Urban and Anna Maria:

  1. Sophia Ashabranner [1745-????]
  2. Urban Ashabranner [????-????]
  3. Barbara Ashabranner [a.1755-b.1806]

>>> Look at my Descendants of Urban Aschenbrenner Chart to see how the relationships stack-up.

1740 Passenger Ship List

>>> Urban Aschenrenner came to the America aboard the ship Samuel. This ship set sail from Rotterdam in the Netherlands and traveled to Deal, England where more passengers and supplies were picked up before the long voyage to America. Departing from Deal the ship crossed the Atlantic and arrived on 3 December 1740 at Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania Colony. Most voyages to the colonies were miserable. Packed to capacity ships were often overcrowded, with no privacy and offering nothing more than polluted water, and vermin-ridden food for the passengers. Food stocks were only large enough for the longest possible voyage. Ship Masters packed ships with as much human cargo as possible to insure many new laborers for the colonies and greater profitability for England. Many would become sick and some would die along the voyage with their families still responsible for all their expenses. Thus was a common struggle for many a traveler in the eighteenth century. Upon arriving he immediately took his Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown. On one ship list he was listed as "Orbinos ASHENBRANDER", age 37, while two other lists had him listed as "Urban ASCHENBRENNER".

>>> There is no certainty that he traveled alone since the ship's lists named only males sixteen years and older. He would have been born circa 1703. With the better part of his youth already behind him, Urban was faced with an unusual circumstance for a man of his age, to begin a new life in a new world and start a family. There is no evidence to support the idea that he traveled to America with a wife or any children. All supporting evidence indicate that he married sometime within 2-3 years after he arrived.


  1. A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania From 1727 to 1776; By: Prof. I. Daniel Rupp; Page: 144; Published/Publisher: [1985] Genealogial Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211.
  2. Ancestry.com - Database: [1] Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727-1776, [2] Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s; Searched Under: Urban Aschenbrenner.
  3. German Speaking People West of the Catawba River in North Carolina 1750-1800; Compiled/Edited By: Lorena Shell Eaker; Page: 70-1; Published/Publisher: [1994] SCK Publications, P.O.Box 2125, Church Hill, TN 37642.
  4. Immigrants to America Before 1750, Surnames A through Bat; Edited By: Frederick A Virkus; Page: 80; Published/Publisher: [1965] Genealogial Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211.
  5. Names of Foreigners Who Took the Oath of Allegiance to the Province and State of Pennsylvania 1727-1775, With the Foreeign Arrivals, 1786-1808; Edited By: William Henry Egle, M.D.; Page: 204-6; Published/Publisher: [????] Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211.
  6. Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Volume I, 1727-1775; Edited By: William John Hinke, Ph.D., D.D.; Page: 289-291; Published/Publisher: [1975] Genealogial Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211.
  7. Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Volume III, Facsimile Signatures Volume, 1727-1775; Edited By: William John Hinke, Ph.D., D.D.; Page: 295-8; Published/Publisher: [1934] Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Survival of the Fittest

>>> "We often give little thought to our past. Our lives are filled with many day-to-day tasks and challenges that routinely occupy our lives with little consequence to our well being or survival." All that is known about Urban's origin began with his arrival. Little else is known about his life before coming to America. This part of his story leaves out, possibly, the greatest adventure of his life and one that we can only speculate upon. It is believed that many early German immigrants came from parts of south-western Germany, known today as the Rhineland Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfaltz) and Baden-Wuerttemberg. His journey may have begun here. While traveling down the Rhine River Urban may have encountered thirty to forty custom houses along the way taking some five to six weeks to travel through. This delay was often because not all of these houses were open along the way to Rotterdam, Holland. Upon arrival, he would have needed a place to stay while he waited for a ship to be ready to sail. This would have taken at least another five to six weeks. Securing his passage aboard the ship "Samuel", he may have had a short voyage of eight to fourteen days, depending on the weather, to Deal, England. The ship would have docked at port for up to ten days while supplies were loaded aboard, along with more passengers, usually filling the ship beyond the it's capacity. Now packed with up to 175 men, women, and children his ship would have been ready for the great Atlantic crossing. The voyage took some two to three months before arriving at Philadelphia. Some never made it; most vulnerable were children under the age of seven and the elderly. Passengers were often subject to choking stench, swarms of lice, chilling cold and dampness, hunger and thirst, and deadly diseases such as dysentery and scurvy. Of course, it is not known how long it took Urban Aschenbrenner to make his journey to America, nor where he actually came from.

>>> Some ships carried up to 200-300 passengers. In Urban’s case there were 175 passengers aboard the ship “Samuel”. There were between 47 to 67 listed passengers on the ship’s lists. All of those listed were males of 16 years and older. These individuals were all required to take an “Oath of Allegiance” to the Crown of England. When this ship docked at Philadelphia at least 11 listed men were sick, 15 more didn’t sign their own names (reasons unknown), and 1 listed death. No mention was made about the other passengers aboard. What can be understood from this is that there must have been extreme hardships endured by these passengers. The passenger lists noted illness for at least 6% of the working providers. Often, only the strongest and healthiest members of these families survived these hardships.

>>> Before deboarding the ship the "Oath of Allegiance" was made and all debts had to be settled. Some of these debts would have included the ship's transportation, food and drink, possibly clothing, lodging and other comforts and necessities incurred before and during the voyage. It was not uncommon, to settle some of these unpaid debts, by signing a contract of labor, as an "indentured servant" for an employer of up to eight years, sometimes longer. This indentured service sometimes separated families for the rest of their lives.

How many women and children were ill by the end of their voyage?

How many obligations were made for indentured service in order to pay off debts?

New World Pauper or Prince

>>> "I find it hard to imagine what life must have actually been like, in 1740, for my ancestor. No matter how many sources I collect, it only amounts into a glimpse of time, a vague moment in reality. Yet, I imagine so much more... until the next piece is found, and redefines the reality around me. Will this be the challenge of my descendants after me?"

>>> I don't have any records of Urban entering into indentured service but I thought that this topic was very important to cover. Most ship's passengers probably couldn't afford the passage fare. This fare was equivalent to about $176.00 in today's terms. I know it doesn't seem like much today, but credit didn't exist then for the poor. Consider the journey leading up to Rotterdam and the day-to-day expenses along the way. In some instances families were broken-up and siblings never seen nor heard from again when those passage debts could not be settled. Payment was often due upon arrival at Philadelphia. Settling these debts usually meant that the person would have to agree to be an indentured servant for two to eight years.

York County Pennsylvania Settlement

>>> Urban quickly settled in York County, PA. He married Anna Maria Balty/Baldy, the daughter of John and Mary Sophia Balte, of Roxbury [Roxborough] in Philadelphia Co., PA, and started a family by 1743. Urban and his family were long time members of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in the City of York, York County, PA. Church records show that several of his children were baptized there from 1743 through 1760. The first to be born was Maria Christina, on 27 August 1743. Her baptism took place on 18 September 1743 at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. Sophia was born circa 1745 and was probably named after her grandmother, Mary Sophia BALTE. Henry was born about 1747 based upon his tombstone reading. Michael was born on 2 July 1752, and was baptized on 29 July 1752 at the same church. Phillip and Urban Jr. probably followed. John Valentine "Felda" and Maria Esther were probably next in the sibling ranks since they were both confirmed on the same date. Their ages were likely close together. Maria Esther was born on 25 September 1760 and baptized on 19 [October] 1760. Barbara was probably the youngest child appearing to be the last one left at home appearing in the 1790 census. All of Urban's children were likely born in York Co., PA and baptized at the same church.


  1. German Speaking People West of the Catawba River in North Carolina 1750-1800; Compiled/Edited By: Lorena Shell Eaker; Page: 70-1; Published/Publisher: [1994] SCK Publications, P.O.Box 2125, Church Hill, TN 37642.
  2. North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Volume VIII, No. 4, November 1982; Translated/Edited By: Ute-Ingrid Seidler; Page: 194; Published/Publisher: North Carolina Genealogical Society.

Urban's Life in York County Pennsylvania

>>> Little is known about Urban's life in York Co., PA. On 7 March 1746/1747 Urban was involved in a boundary dispute with ________ McCOOKSON over land which sold for £ 5.0.0. Details of this dispute or its settlement are unclear but abstracts listed him as "Urbanus ASHLEBRENER". In 1749 Urban appeared as a witness in the will of John HENDRICKSON of Dover Township on 21 January. This will record his name as "Urban ASHBURNER". The most important remnant of his life in York County happened on 12 April 1754. John BALTE of Roxbury [Roxburro], Philadelphia Co., PA, died and left a will that was probated on 23 September 1758. In this will the following family members and abstracts were recorded:

  1. Mary Sophia - "To wife Mary Sophia my improvement and personal estate. At her death it is to be sold and divided into 2 equival parts, one to Urban Eschennbrenner and the other to Conrad Krider. If Conrad dies before his age or has no issue, his share goes to children of Urban."
  2. Jacob (his son)
  3. Urban ESHENBRENNER - "to son-in-law Urban Eshenbrenner after my wife's decease my great Dutch Bible and one small iron pot."
  4. Abraham KRIDER (son-in-law)
  5. Conrad KRIDER (nephew)
  • Executors: Mary Sophia BALTE, Thomas Looslee MILLER
  • Witnesses: Daniel BERNDELLER, Benjamin LEVERING, John BOWMAN

>>> This will solved many important issues and framed some abstract clues into chronological sense. I would be very interested in finding John BALTE's great Dutch Bible. This bible might hold keys to understanding where this family originated from. If Urban received this bible and it survived through time, it may have gone down one of the STAMEY family lines. I also have some belief that it is possible that his wife, Mary Sophia, is of the KRIDER family. Conrad was a nephew but I have not found any evidence to confirm which side he comes from.


  1. German Speaking People West of the Catawba River in North Carolina 1750-1800; Compiled/Edited By: Lorena Shell Eaker; Page: 70-1; Published/Publisher: [1994] SCK Publications, P.O.Box 2125, Church Hill, TN 37642.
  2. Special Publication Number 20: October 1982 - Surviving Early Records of York County, Pennsylvania, More Precisely Being Genealogical Excerpts from Will Book A, 1749-1762; By: Mary Barr (Bryant) Wilt; Page: 9; Published/Publisher: [1982] South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, Inc..

Great Philadelphia Wagon Road

>>> The enticement of land grants drew many families to the unsettled boundaries of the colonies. Most of these settlers traveled by way of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road often taking one of the many adjoining trails to their destination. Urban was no different, by 1766 he took his family from York Co., PA and settled in Mecklenburg Co., NC where he acquired a land patent, although he may have settled as early as 1762 no documentation had been found to confirm this circumstance. During this time North Carolina offered Crown Grants to the colonists. This may have involved several steps over a lengthy period of time and the payment of money for several services. A claim, application, or petition would have been made which would have involved marking the proposed boundaries and notifying the granting authority of the desired claim of which there may have been a fee paid. A period occurs when other claimants or neighbors identify and settle disputes. Improvements to the land may have been required as a condition to retain the property. There may have been additional waiting periods built-in as some patents were being processed in batches. The granting authority would then make a land warrant entitling the land to be surveyed. This order, sometimes issued directly to the surveyor would then be carried out. A survey or plat made by the surveyor would either be copied into or attached to the final grant documents. A fee was usually paid to the surveyor. The formal issuance and recording of the title would then be made by the granting authority in the form of a patent. Final fees were probably paid to close the deal.

Settlement in Mecklenburg Co., NC

>>> On 26 October 1767 Urban was granted 600 Arpens in Mecklenburg Co., NC on both sides of Pasture Branch, including his improvement, and joining WARLOCKs corner. Ironically his son-in-law, John STAMEY, was also granted a land patent adjacent to his on the same day. This land was 500 Arpens on the west side of the south fork of the Catawba River, including STAMEYs improvement, joining ASHABRANNERs line, WARLOCKs line and a point below the STAMEY house. A year and two months later, on 22 December 1768, a future son-in-law, John BORELAND was granted 400 Arpens in the newly formed Tryon Co., NC on the west side of the south fork of the Catawba river on the waters of Howards Creek, joining STAMEYs line, ASHYBRANNERs line, a hollow, and Ritchopes Corner. Urban's daughter, Maria Christina married 1st, John STAMEY, on 29 December 1761, and married 2nd, John BORELAND, after 1783.


  1. Colony of North Carolina, 1765-1775, Abstracts of Land Patents, Volume II; By: Margaret M. Hofmann; Page: 108, 123, 448, 467.
  2. German Speaking People West of the Catawba River in North Carolina 1750-1800; Compiled/Edited By: Lorena Shell Eaker; Page: 70-1; Published/Publisher: [1994] SCK Publications, P.O.Box 2125, Church Hill, TN 37642.

Wochentlicher Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote Mystery

>>> On 29 March 1768, the Wochentlicher Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote, a Philadelphia German newspaper published by Heinrich Miller, makes a mention of Urban as "Urban ESCHENBRENNER, on the Ridge (Ridge Avenue), near Philadelphia". In this abstract it appears that Urban resides in Philadelphia during 1768. This was a piece of the Urban puzzle that didn't appear to fit for many years. The above abstract, "on the ridge (Ridge Avenue)" refers to Ridge Road. This is a Road that turns and bends from the Wissahickon to the region behind Manayunk, and into Roxborough continuing on many miles beyond. Roxborough was where John BALTE and Mary Sophia __________ lived. I strongly believe that Urban returned during this time to settle the estate of John BALTE. The only thing missing is the will of Mary Sophia BALTE. It is possible that she may have remarried but I have not found any indication of this event.

>>> This abstract had created a great deal of confusion. There is no doubt that the Urban mentioned in this abstract, in 1768, is the same Urban who settled his family in North Carolina in 1767. There is some belief that this was another Urban, either his father or his son, but I strongly believe that he was there on business. The reason for this thought is that there is no further evidence that indicate his continued residence there.


  1. Genealogical Data Relating to the German Settlers of Pennsylvania and Adjacent Territory; By: Edward W. Hocker; Page: 100; Published/Publisher: [1981] Genealogial Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211.

The Founding of Daniel's Evangelical Reformed Church

>>> On 26 October 1767, 50 A (Arpens) were granted to Matthew FLOYD consisting of land on the south side of the south fork which included a school-house was sold to Daniel WARLOCK, Frederick WISE, Orpan ASHYBRANNER, Peter STOTLER, Peter SUMMY, and Teter HAVENER for £ 10. Six years later on 9 January 1774, the same land was conveyed to the United Congregations of Lutherans and Calvinists, by Urban ASCHENBRENNER, a trustee, Daniel WARLOCK, Frederick WISE, Peter STOTLER, Peter SUMMY, and Teter HAVENER, all of whom were original founders. A church was organized that same year with J G ARNDT (Johann Gottfried ARENDS) as their first regular minister and Philip HENKEL as his assistant.

>>> The current existing building on this site was built in 1888 and considered to be the third one built there since this site was founded. [SR 1113 (Reepsville Road) northwest of Lincolnton.]


  1. City of Lincolnton - History; Published/Publisher: [2004] City of Lincolnton.
  2. Daniel's Evangelical Reformed and Daniel's Lutheran Cemetery - Lincoln County; By: W. D. Floyd; Published/Publisher: [1997] USGenWeb Project. This cemetery listing can be found on the following pages: [1] USGenWeb Archives; [2] NCGenWeb Location.
  3. Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Deed Abstracts, 1763-1779; By: Brent H Holcomb, C.A.L.S., Elmer O. Parker; Page: 116; Southern Historical Press, 375 West Broad Street. P.O. Box 1267, Greenville, S.C. 29601.

1778 Burke County Petition

>>> On 25 December 1778, residents of the newly reformed Burke County petitioned the Governor to remain a part of Tryon Co., NC. This included four of Urban's sons, Henry, Urban, Jr., Phillip, and Felda (John Valentine). All four brothers signed a Burke County petition in 1778/9 requesting the governor to consider the area where they lived to remain as Tryon County. It is not clear if they were living on their father's property, nor is it certain that the named Orband (Urban) was senior or junior, although it was likely Urban, Jr. This petition would never become reality since Tryon County was abolished in 1779 and replaced by the newly created Lincoln and Rutherford Counties. Many of these long time residences were again affected as neighboring county lines were again redrawn.

>>> This document shows the earliest consensus of the adopted spelling in the family name. All four of Urban's sons clearly signed their name using the "Ashabraner" spelling. Before 1778, Urban's signature appeared to vary greatly, resulting in a multitude of interpretations in spelling. The spellings varied to such an extent that I had only his first name and the location of the found document to go by to confirm the connection. There may yet be undiscovered documents waiting to be found. It is likely that the final variation in the spelling of this family name was meant to be "Ashabranner". This family name is phonetically simple and easy to pronounce. It is ironic that while researching my family that I would find this name so commonly misspelled. This presented to me an unusual circumstance to solve. How many spellings exist today which stem from Urban? I know of at least 6 variations: (In order of the highest common appearance in numbers.) [Date of the earliest known use.]

  • Aschenbrenner [1740]
  1. Ashabranner
  2. Ashabraner [1778]
  3. Asherbranner
  4. Asherbraner
  5. Ashabrann
  6. Ashabran

>>> I believe that there may be other variations in spelling used today. I am interested in understanding how each variation became created and when it derived. Please contact me if you share any of the above variations and when you believe it changed. Include your ancestral line.
>>> There also seemed to be a strange but common circumstance of flip-flopping the spelling from one generation to the next and back again. [ie: Ashabraner to Ashabranner to Ashabraner]


  1. German Speaking People West of the Catawba River in North Carolina 1750-1800; Compiled/Edited By: Lorena Shell Eaker; Page: 35-6; Published/Publisher: [1994] SCK Publications, P.O.Box 2125, Church Hill, TN 37642.

The Abolishment of Tryon County

>>> Mecklenburg County formed in 1762 from Anson County. In 1768, Mecklenburg County was divided to form two separate counties, one retained the name of Mecklenburg while the other became known as Tryon. The county seat for the new Tryon County became a town named Tryon, located between the present day Cherryville and Bessemer City in Gaston County. The newly formed Tryon County occupied all or part of the present day Burke, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, McDowell, Polk, and Rutherford Counties of North Carolina and part of the present day Cherokee, Chester, Greenville, Lancaster, Laurens, Newberry, Spartanburg, Union, and York Counties of South Carolina. This county division was described as; "by a line beginning at Earl Granville's line, where it crosses the Catawba River and the said river to be the line to the South Carolina line, and all that part of the county lying to the westward of the said dividing line shall be one other distinct county and parish, and remain by the name of Tryon County and Saint Thomas Parish." This huge expanse of territory was never clearly defined until 1772 when the state line was resolved. This creation lasted until 1779, when the General Assembly further divided and redrawn the county "by a line beginning at the south line near Broad River, thence along the dividing ridge between Buffalo Creek and Little Broad River to the line of Burke County". In this action Tryon County was abolished to form Rutherford and Lincoln Counties.

More to come...