Messner's "A Brief History of

the Early Kimmel Family"

Although the author's name is not on this letter, it is certain it was part of a letter from Dr. Charles A. Messner of Buffalo, New York to a cousin probably written in the mid-1930's.    This text from "A Brief History of the Early Kimmel Family" comes from a copy in the possession of Joan Kimmell of Fort Wayne, Indiana who got it from her cousin Philip M. Kimmell of Rochester, NY in 1984.  Joan and Philip were cousins of Charles Messner.

A Brief Historyof the Early Kimmel Family

Our Line of Descent:
Johann Michael Kimmel 1662-1734 and Anna Margarethe Souter 1663-1728
Johann Jacob Kimmel 1705-1784 and Maria Barbara Heinrich (   )-1753
Adam Kimmel (   )-1778 and (    )
Joseph Kimmel 1769-1843 and Hanna Welde 1772-1851
Jacob Kimmel 1816-1901 and Eliza Brumbaugh 1821-1900
Every one of us may rightly be proud to have Kimmell blood in our veins.  The family has had an honorable record in America for almost two hundred years, and our knowledge of them in Germany carries us back almost another century.  The name in German was Kümel or Kümmel which became very easily in English Kimmel, spelled Kimmell by some branches of the family.  They seem to have been rather well-to-do wine-growers and merchants in southern Germany in the upper Rhine valley.  Some early records were found in 1927 by one Rudolph Schaeffer.  I have no doubt that further search would reveal more.

The earliest Kimmel of which we have any record was Johann Michael Kimmel, born October 1, 1662, at Alsheim, Rheinhessen, Germany.  In November, 1689, he married Anna Margarethe, the widow of John Oswald.  Her maiden name was Souter, and she was born in May, 1663.  She died July 21, 1728.  She and Johann Michael Kimmel were the parents of Johann Philip, Johann Valentine, Johann Jacob, Johann Conrad, Maria Veronica, and some add Elizabeth.  Johann Michael was a colonel in the Polish army.  He married as his second wife Anna Elizabeth, widow of Hartmann Heinrich.  She died July 5, 1733.  He was for some time resident judge at Gimbsheim and died there August 23, 1734.  Johann Michael and Anna Margarethe Kimmel are the ancestors of all the Kimmels in Amerca, three of their sons having migrated here before the American Revolution.

Johann Michael's service in the Polish army has led some to believe that we are Polish by descent.  This is a misconception.  The Kimmels were Hessians with plenty of fighting blood, and they sold their services as mercenary soldiers to the Polish government.  Both Johann Michael and his son Johann Philip were in the Polish army and I have pictures of them in Polish uniform.

Our ancestor Johann Jacob Kimmel was responsible for the migration of himself and his two brothers Johann Valentine and Johann Philip to America.  He had been in correspondence with some of his countrymen who had gone to Ephrata, Pa., near Lancaster, and founded there a religious community of Seventh Day Baptists known as the Ephrata Cloister.  On May 22, 1751, he set out from Gimbsheim with his wife and five children, his brother Johann Valentine and family, and many of his neighbors for Rotterdam, where he sailed on the ship St. Andrew, of which James Abercrombie was captain, landing at Philadelphia September 14, 1751.  These two brothers and their families are the first two Kimmels known to have set foot on American soil.  The fact is recorded in the old church records at Gimbsheim and in Rupp's "Thirty Thousand Names of German Immigrants to Pennsylvania."

Johann Jacob Kimmel was born at Gimbsheim October 14, 1705.  His wife was Maria Barbara, daughter of Hartmann Heinrich.  Their children were all born in Germany.  The oldest was probably Adam, whose name appears with that of his father in the list of passengers and also appears first in his father's will which I shall mention later.  Upon landing at Philadelphia Jacob went at once to Ephrata to join his friends in the religious community.  His brother Johann Valentine received a grant of land from the sons of William Penn in York County in the Bermudian Creek Valley.  Here later came his brother Johann Philip and his six sons, and from these are descended many of the Kimmels now in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Some disagreement arose over the status of married people in the Ephrata community, and Johann Jacob and his wife and all the married people left, going to the Bermudian settlement.  Here Jacob's wife died in 1753, and as he did not believe in remarrying, he returned to Ephrata, entered the cloister of single men, became a leader in the community, and died there November 25, 1784.  All of this is recorded in the Chronicle of Ephrata published in German in 1784 and translated by J. Max Hark in 1889, and also in J. F. Sachse's "German Sectarians in Pennsylvania," Vol. II.  The history of this old religious community is very interesting; the old buildings are still standing and are well worth visiting.

I saw at Lancaster the will of our venerable ancestor which he made on December 13, 1779.  He mentions his son Adam, deceased (your great-grandfather), his son Jacob, his son Rupert if alive, and his daughter Barbara.  To the first three or their heirs he left one English shilling, they having received their share during his lifetime.  To his daughter Barbara he left the residue of his estate for her affectionate care during the years she lived at Ephrata.  The will was probated December 14, 1784.  No record was found of the distribution of the estate.  No trace has been found of Rupert.  It is believed that Barbara was a member of the Ephrata convent and died there unmarried.  Jacob, Jr. was one of the trustees of the Ephrata Society of the Seventh Day Baptists when it was incorporated February 21, 1814.  He also served in the Pennsylvania State Legislature from 1803 to 1809.  It is believed that his descendants may still be found in Lancaster County, Pa.

It is in Jacob's oldest son Adam, our ancestor, (your great-grandfather) that we are most interested.  He came to America with his father in 1751.  He soon appears as a merchant in Philadelphia.  He must have married there and his children were probably born there.  There is no knowledge of his wife's name or the date of her death.  A search of the records in Philadelphia might reveal a great deal about the family.  There is a tradition that they lived at Swedesboro south of Philadelphia near the Delaware River.  We do not know for certain the names of his children, but we have the following from various sources:  Michael, said to have been a brewer at Washington, D.C.; William, Joseph (our ancestor), Jacob, Anna, Justina, and Rebecca.

Adam Kimmel was employed by Benjamin Franklin to furnish wagons and supplies for the expedition in 1755 of George Washington and General Braddock to Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburgh.  At the opening of the Revolution he furnished supplies to the American army.  A record of the transactions is found in the proceedings of the Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776.  He became a commissary in the army and was commissioned on January 5, 1776, as a First Lieutenant in the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Col. Anthony Wayne.  He died of camp flux on January 27, 1778, in the cloister at Ephrata which was being used as a military hospital.  It is because of the service of Adam Kimmel in the War for American Independence that every one of who are his direct descendants are eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.  In his dealings with the new American government he was paid in continental currency which became worthless and left his heirs, most of them minors, penniless.  His great-grandson, Manias H. Kimmell, of Albion, Indiana, once had a pocket-book of canvas with the name "Adam Kimmel 1776" worked in silk thread and filled with continental script.

It has been very difficult to learn what became of the children of Adam Kimmel.  An Anna Kimmel died August 11, 1847, at the age of 90 years, 3 months, and 18 days at Snow Hill, an offshoot of the Ephrata community.  This would make April 23, 1757, the date of her birth, and she could have been Adam's daughter Anna.  A Justina Kimmel who was born in 1760 married John Sensaman of Lancaster, and down through the Sensaman family has come a tradition that her father brought her at the opening of the Revolution from Philadelphia to Lancaster for greater safety, and that both her father and mother died at Ephrata.  She may have been Adam's daughter.  A descendant, Mrs. Keefer, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., has a desk and chest that belonged to Justina Kimmel.  At Lancaster in the Orphans Court Records I found under date of April 19, 1797, a petition of John Bowman and Rebecca, his wife, one of the daughters of Adam Kimmel, deceased, for the final settlement of his estate.

The information about Joseph Kimmell (your grandfather) is a little more complete.  We know from his tombstone that he was born March 19, 1769.  In the Orphans Court Record at Lancaster appears the following dated March 8, 1786:  "Joseph Kimmel, a minor son of Adam Kimmel, late of Donegal Township, deceased, being above the age of fourteen years, comes into court and chooses Henry Bare of Cocalico Township guardian over his estate during his minority and the Court approves and appoints the said Henry Bare his guardian accordingly."  No record was found of the settlement of the estate.  At Reading, Pa., in the records of the old Trinity Lutheran Church I found Joseph's marriage certificate.  It reads as follows:  "April 8, 1792.  Joseph, Adam Kümel's third son, Newberry Township, Dauphin County, to Hanna, youngest daughter of George Weldy, deceased, Reading, in presence of John Schulz, Newberry, and John Weldy, Reading."

We know a treat deal also about Hanna Weldy (your grandmother) and her family.  Her tombstone shows that she was born June 22, 1772.  She was confirmed on Good Friday, 1785.  She had a sister Mary Elizabeth, born March 3, 1771, and a brother John.  Her father was the only son of George Weldy of Douglass Township, Philadelphia County.  He died some time before 1786.  On March 29, 1789, her mother married William Heidekam of Reading.  Her maiden name was Mary Dorothea Meyerly, only daughter of Balthasar Meyerly of Reading.  He died May 7, 1788, at the age of 73 years, 8 months, and 3 days, leaving his estate to his widow and after her death to his son Frederick (Hanna's uncle] and his daughter Dorothea (Hanna's mother).  A record of the death of his widow Mary Elizabeth on April 8, 1790,shows that she was 79 years of age, that her maiden name was Gastreyer, and that she came from Erptingen, Urach, Wurtemberg, Germany.

Joseph and Hanna Kimmel's first son Adam is reported to have been born in Reading March 22, 1794.  Soon after, they must have gone to Union County, Pa., since there is a record of the purchase of a lot in Lewisburg on September 15, 1796.  Then they acquired a farm in West Buffalo Township, Union County, and here the other nine children were born:  William, 1797; John, 1798; Cyrus, 1799; Rebecca, 1801; Joseph, 1802; Hannah, 1803; Amos, 1804; Mary 1807; and Jacob 1816.  Adam served in Capt. John Bergstrasser's company in the War of 1812.  On October 1, 1816, he and his wife Lucy, maiden name unknown, sold their farm which adjoined that of his father Joseph, and went to Canton, Ohio.  His brothers John and William followed in 1813.

On October 3, 1822, Joseph and Hanna sold their farm and brought their family to Lake Township, Stark County, Ohio.  Here Joseph died September 18, 1843, and Hanna on July 12, 1851.  They lie side by side in the Lutheran Evangelical Cemetery at Uniontown.  Someone who is sufficiently interested might find a great deal of information about the Kimmel family in Stark County by reading the old issues of the Canton Repository from 1816 down to the present.

The oldest son Adam went later to Albion, Indiana, where his descendants still live.  He died October 16, 1872, either at Albion or at Canton.  William died in Williams County, Ohio, where there is a record of one son Adam near Montpelier.  John married Martha McFadden.  They lived near Louisville, Ohio, where he died October 3, 1876.  A daughter Mary Ann married Samuel Immel, and many of their descendants are still living near Louisville and elsewhere in Stark County.  Cyrus died at Pella, Iowa, and Amos at Walnut, Illinois.  Joseph died at Kimmell, Indiana, at the home of his son Orlando, March 16, 1887, aged 84 years, 3 months, and 17 days.  Rebecca married Peter Lautzenheiser and they lived and died in Stark County, leaving many descendants.  Hannah married William Lautzenheiser, moved to North Manchester, Indiana, where she died in 1875.  Mary died unmarried in 1876, and is buried in the cemetery near the brick church near Hartville.

Our immediate ancestor Jacob came at the age of six with his parents to Stark County.  He married Eliza Brumbaugh on November 17, 1838.  They lived for a time on the old homestead near Congress Lake.  To them were born seventeen children of whom fourteen lived to maturity.  Eliza Kimmel died September 11, 1900, and Jacob followed her September 19, 1901.  They rest side by side at the brick church near Hartville.  Of their children three are still living:  Aunt Lucetta Wolfe of Los Angeles; Aunt Carrie Wertz of Youngstown; and Uncle Clarence Kimmel of Hiawatha, Kansas.  Aunt Carrie can tell you better than anyone I know the history of all her brothers and sisters and their families.

Tim's Reality Check
Detail From Public Documents That Support or Counter Claims in This Document
The letter was written after the 1930 death of his Aunt Mary Ann Hinman and before the 1936 death of his Aunt Lucetta Wolfe.  And most likely after 1933 when the 1927 Shafer papers were reportedly translated to English.  Messner visited Germany himself in 1937 and later produced a documented report on the family in 1967 which is filed at the Allen Co. Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The recipient of the letter is identified as a great-grandchild of Adam Kimmel, but that would be Manias, who was long dead before the letter was written.  Since his living aunts and uncles were listed in the letter, the recipient would have to have been a cousin, even though he or she would actually have been a great-great-great-grandchild of Adam.
Paragraph 3:  I haven't come across the source for Johann Michael's birth date and date of first marriage, but the other dates and names of his children come from Gimbsheim church records.
Paragraph 4:  The pictures of Johann Michael and son Johann Philip in uniform appeared in Charles Messner's documented family history typed in 1967 and donated by a family member to the genealogy collection at the Allen County Public Library.  See the images on the Kimmel Family Record images page.  Now deceased, his close relatives do not know how he acquired the pictures or what happened to the originals.  But a very similar version of the Johann Philip portrait was reported having been acquired by Marius Manning Kimmel of Henderson, Kentucky in "Kentucky Ante-bellum Portraiture."  Ultimate source was probably Amy Husband Kimmel of Cape Girardeau. Missouri.
Paragraph 8:  Accounts in Sphon's account of "The Kimmel Family of the Cocalico" in vol. 17 of the "Journal of the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley" notes that it was Jacob Kimmel, son of Adam who served in the state legislature and that it was mentioned in his obituary in 1843 in the "Readinger Adler" and the "Stimme des Volks."
Paragraph 9:  Michael was Adam's oldest son, but three of his sisters (Sarah Anne, Julianna Justina and Anna Barbara) were older than he was.  I've found no evidence Michael moved to Washington, DC.  Philadelphia tax and land records show him living in Philadelphia as a "gentleman" in 1787.  His will was probated there in 1791.
Paragraph 10:  I haven't come across the document that proves Adam was employed by Franklin in 1755 but it is possible.  His involvement as supplier to the American army is mentioned in volume 11 of the "Colonial Records of Pennsylvania."  Adam was probably not left "penniless" since he still had an estate including property left to his children in his will and since one son was a "gentleman" in Philadelphia in his twenties and another was well-to-do enough to make it to the state legislature.  Relatives do not know what happened to Adam's canvas pocket-book.

Details on the pages of the Kimmel Family Record web site come from the collection of
Timothy W. Kimmel of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  You can contact Tim at

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