Ancestor of the Month
Daniel DeWalt, Sr.
b. Possibly c1735 d. Between 1776-1788
ancestors are full of surprises. In researching for this series of articles,
I have found many tidbits of interest. Recently the fact that became most obvious
to me was that we McCarters have many German ancestors—particularly those from the Palantine area of Germany. Having noted the preponderance of Germans in recent AOM articles, I determined
to choose this month’s ancestor from another geographical area. Nestled
among the familiar names we all know I noticed the name DeWalt. Hmmm. That name certainly didn’t sound German; French would be a nice change. I made a choice and started research.
was Daniel DeWalt, Sr., grandfather of Mary Koone who was the wife of John Ownby, III.
I chose Daniel purely because I knew nothing about him; he was the most “ancient” of the DeWalts
I had listed in Papaw’s line, and his name sounded totally non-German.
The Problem with Names
of the first things I learned about Daniel DeWalt is that controversy exists over his name.
Everyone seems to agree that two DeWalt males arrived together in Philadelphia sometime before 1755. Some believe the two were brothers, David and Daniel; others think that a father and son,
David and Daniel made up the pair, and still others think the two men were a father and son named Daniel, Sr., and Daniel,
Jr. The man we are pursuing in this article called himself Daniel DeWalt
in his will, and he had a son named Daniel who was born in America. Thus,
of the two original immigrants, Daniel, rather than David, is the correct name for the man we wish to research,
and, since our Daniel, Jr. was born in York, PA, he is definitely not one of the first two arrivals. We can conclude that our Daniel, Sr.’s, father or brother was named either David
or Daniel, and that this father or brother, according to one source, remained in PA.
(An example of the controversy can be found in one of our major sources that called Daniel, Jr.’s father David
research on Daniel, Sr., I learned that his surname was originally Theobald.
The German immigrants pronounced Theobald as “Day-vault”
so the people listing passengers on the ships and the colonists in PA (and SC) who needed to write the name spelled it DeWalt. In addition to the DeWalt surname, many young men had Theobald as a given name,
so ship lists and so forth contained DeWalt Shultzes, DeWalt Graybills, and so forth as well as Peter DeWalts
and David DeWalts (Later I even ran across DeWalt Theobalds
and Theobald DeWalts.)
Place of Origin
DeWalt researchers have claimed the family originated in the Alsace/Lorraine region of France.
They say that the family moved into Germany and settled along the Rhine where they participated in shipping. In this version of the family’s migration, the move to Germany was caused by religious persecution. The DeWalts left France because they were Huguenots and had felt the burden of religious
intolerance. Other sources, however, place the family’s origins in and
around the Canton of Bern, Switzerland. The Swiss Protestants were part of the
exodus from Europe to the British colonies in America during the Palatine immigration here and are considered part of the
Palatines. Either or both of these versions could be true. The DeWalts could have moved from France into either Germany or Switzerland or both. Let’s face it. Whichever of these stories is true, I
had found another Palatine refugee to add to our family tree. Destiny or Karma
must have stepped in to continue the saga of the Germans
point, I still have not found Daniel, Sr.’s, definite date of birth or the ship he boarded to travel to the colonies.
Many sources list his son Daniel’s birth date as “before 1755”; thus, we could "guestimate" a birth
year for Daniel, Sr., at about 1735—using 20 years as an approximate age of maturity and marriage. Given the stories of Daniel’s life, however, he may have been older than this.
That Pesky 1755
date 1755 poses several problems for those researching Daniel’s life. According
to Clara Johnstone McCrary and Fanny A Johnstone, DeWalt family historians, Daniel, Sr., was a ship’s captain who was
involved in the shipping trades and was in Lisbon, Portugal on 1 Nov 1755 when a horrible hurricane and tsunami demolished
the city, killing 70,000 people They indicate that Daniel often told his
relatives the tale of his survival but that the story’s details were lost over the years. This voyage and hurricane sound as if they might have occurred on Daniel’s original voyage to America;
in fact, one account says that he came to America via Portugal. It is possible,
however, that he was traveling from America to Portugal if he continued to ply his trade upon the seas after
he arrived in the colonies. It is further possible that he is not on any
of the ships’ passenger lists that we can find because he was a captain or an officer on board the ship on which he
arrived. Perhaps not. Age twenty
sounds young for a sea captain
event, Daniel, Sr., apparently arrived in PA sometime before 1755 (possibly as early as 1746 in regard to the subtitle of
the McCrary-Johnstone book) and there married Susannah Graybill, daughter of Jakob Krepil (c1700-?) and Catherine Unknown (c1700-?) who had also left Switzerland for religious reasons and traveled to the
colonies. Jakob Krepil sailed on board the ship Mortonhouse, captained by James Coulton, and arrived in Philadelphia
19 Aug 1729. His wife was not listed on the ship lists with him, so he probably
met and married her after arrival. (The Krepil’s original family name had
been Krähenbühl or Kraehenbuehl. Susannah’s father’s
name had been re-spelled to Krepil, and by the time Daniel, Sr., married Susannah, her family name had become the anglicized
Graybill. Susannah is listed in several sources as Susannah Gray. (In fact, she was listed as Gray on my pedigree chart until I started doing
this research) In addition, her name is spelled Susannah, Susana, and
Susan in various sources. Susannah had at least one sister named
and Daniel had three children in York Co., PA, and then moved to Frederick Co., MD around 1767. It is possible that Susannah was expecting another child when they moved. Three
more children were born in MD, and then the DeWalts moved south. Again the dates are disconcerting. The first three children
are spaced out from before 1755 to about 1767. The last three would have had
to be born within a very short time span—about 1767-1769.
The Move to Newberry
Sr., and his family probably moved from Maryland to the Newberry area of SC around 1769.
Newberry was in the “Dutch Buffer Zone” established to protect the English colonists in Charleston (called
Charles Town at that time) from the Indians in the northwestern areas of the state.
South Carolina was “advertising” for Palatine settlers, and Queen Anne had already sent large numbers of
German immigrants to the colonies. (Note:
Palatinate refers to the region; Palatine refers to those who lived there.)
(See Benedictus Kuhn and Johan Heinrich McInterfeer for
more info about the Palatines and the buffer zone. Go to the top of this page,
click the sentence about previously published AOMs, and then choose Kuhn or McInterfeer from the navigation bar. Our Dr. Martin Schultz was also a German immigrant. His family
also arrived during the Palatine influx, but at the time I wrote that article, I was unaware of the Palatines. )
Land Grants and Baron DeGrau
Queen Anne’s death, the monarchy passed to the Hanoverian kings from Germany.
George I (1714 –
1727) never learned to speak English. George II (1727
– 1760) learned English, but preferred Germany to England. Thus, a propensity for favoring Germans in granting lands in America was understandable.
does this propensity affect us? King George II gave Baron Frederick DeGrau, a
member of the Prussian court, a large grant of land in present day Newberry County, SC.
Baron DeGrau was born in Hesse Cassell, Prussia. He was said to have been
a Prussian soldier of the King’s Guards in Saxony According to one source, the Baron arrived in the colonies about 1750 and in Newberry about 1752 with the DeWalts and a number of other German settlers. The Baron brought with him a daughter who married George Gallman, and a son, George, who married Eva Margareta Egmont DePeyster. (DeWalt family tradition
also says that the DeWalts arrived in Newberrry with other Germans, which would fit into this version of their arrival in
SC. McCrary and Johnstone say that Daniel, Sr., received a large land grant from
George III [1760-1820]). Just as the DeWalts and other families had had
their names anglicized, the DeGrau’s surname was soon changed to Gray.
Baron DeGrau, his son George Gray, Sr., and his grandson Major Frederick Gray, a revolutionary patriot, are all buried
in the Gray cemetery in Newberry. There were a number of marriages between the
Grays (deGraus) and the DeWalts over the years.
That Pesky 1755 Again
Now if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed a huge discrepancy.
Daniel and his family were supposedly in York, PA in 1752, and then lived in MD.
(Not to mention the fact that he was battling hurricanes in Lisbon in 1755, supposedly before he came to America.) On the other hand, 1752 found more German immigrants making their way to SC than at
any other time so it is possible that Daniel and his family came south then—possible, but unlikely. Just why and when our group moved is unclear, but many of the PA German immigrants moved to the South and West after
staying for a while in PA. Perhaps the DeWalts moved at that time to accompany
or to rendezvous with Baron DeGrau’s party.
Sr., bought land on Cannons Creek near Prosperity, SC from John Lavingston in 1769.
This date as a time of arrival would fit into our other information more neatly and would allow for hurricanes, living
in MD, and the birth of children. In fact, Daniel is listed as a resident of
MD on this 1769 SC land deed. Above all else, we must remember that much
of this information is based on family traditions which could have been inaccurate.
To paraphrase William Faulkner, “our memories are not long, straight roads, but very short roads ending in a
meadow.” All the “facts” attributed to Daniel may be true;
they may just have happened in a different order than that remembered by earlier family members.
The DeWalt Children
Sr., and Susannah had six surviving children: Two sons, Daniel. Jr., and Peter,
and four daughters: Maria Magdalena (Mary), Catherine, Susannah, and Ruth. It is believed that Daniel, Peter, and Mary were born in York, PA, and that Catherine,
Susannah, and Ruth were born in MD. While all of the children are important,
two are of particular importance to us. One is Maria Magdalena who is our ancestor. There were two Maria or Mary Magdalenas in the DeWalt family. The first was born 15 Aug 1756 and died 22 Apr 1760. The second
Maria was born about 1760 and died about 1844. Since she was born shortly after the death of her three-and-one-half-year-old
sister, she may have been named for her. Our Mary grew up to marry Nicholas Koone
(Kuhn) (1752-1831). They lived for a time in Newberry, then sold the land they had bought there and moved to Rutherford Co.,
NC where they established a mill. Mary and her husband Nicholas had six
children: George, Peter, Daniel, Rachel, Mary Jane (our ancestor), and
Susannah. Mary DeWalt is mentioned as Magdalena in the will of
Daniel DeWalt, Sr., and as Mary Koone in her mother's and brother Peter’s wills.
Daughter Susannah marrid a man named Boyles and daughter Ruth married a man named Hampton.
Daughter Catherine married George Gray (deGrau), Jr., who was the son of George Gray (deGrau), Sr., and Eva Margareta Egmont
DePeyster. Son Peter apparently did not marry.
(Son Daniel, Jr. is an entire story unto himself.
(Go to Daniel DeWalt, Part II)