Author Topic: ALR Museum proudly presents the Shell Family Geneology  (Read 7058 times)

Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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ALR Museum proudly presents the Shell Family Geneology
« on: November 13, 2009, 02:04:34 AM »
This extraordinary contribution was researched and prepared by "Bill52" of the Shell Family.We are forever grateful for this contribution.

This is Bill52's family tie: Jacob Shell (John's & Daniel's brother) had a son, Cornelius Martin.  Cornelius' second wife was Charlotte and they had a daughter Alice.  Alice is my great-great grandmother.  Thus, Jacob Shell is my 4x great grandfather and Martin Jr. my 5x great grandfather.

The Shell Family Gunsmiths of Dauphin County – An Abbreviated Genealogy by "Bill52".

Martin Shell, Sr.  Born: variously reported as 1737 or 1730, however this is inconsistent with the land purchase noted below; died: 1796; buried at his farm near Harrisburg.

Martin Shell Sr. (sometimes spelled “Schell”) came to America among the Palatine (German natives of the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany) emigration to New York.  On June 6, 1737, he acquired title to 150 acres of land from (the Province of) Pennsylvania in Heidelberg Township, Berks County and with other German Palatines moved there, thereby being among the first settlers.  As early as 1755, Martin Sr. is recorded as a member of the Reformed and Lutheran Church of Tulpehocken.  

Martin Sr. married Anna-Catherine Diffenbach (b Dec 27, 1739; d Oct 17, 1817) on Dec 9, 1759 in Tulpehocken and had two children:
•   Martin Jr. (see below)
•   Catherine  (b May 8, 1767; d Jan 10, 1828 in Ohio)

The family moved from Tulpehoken to Paxtang (Paxton) Township, Lancaster (later Dauphin) County about 1765, purchasing a farm near Harrisburg.

Martin Sr. was engaged in gunsmithing in both Heidelberg (1770 – 1774) and Paxton (1775 – 1790) townships according to census and tax lists.  He is reported to have supplied guns for the Committee of Safety prior to the Revolutionary War.  

Martin Shell, Jr.  b Sep 16, 1763 in Tulpehocken, Berks county; d Aug 19, 1817 in Paxton, Dauphin county; buried in the Shoops Church Cemetery with his wife (both graves have been moved at least once to make room for the interstate).

Martin Jr. married Catherine Parthemore (b Oct 31, 1761; d Sep 15, 1804) and had the following children:
•   Anna-Catherine, (b Jul 17, 1786)
•   John, (see below)
•   Daniel, (see below)
•   Mary-Ester, (b May 4, 1796)
•   John-Jacob, (see below)
•   Susan, (b Mar 29, 1802)

Martin Jr. is mentioned as being a gunsmith in three court summons on record in the Lancaster County Courthouse, dated 1770, 1772, 1774.  In these records, his residence is listed as Tulpehocken, Heidelberg Township.  In the 1788 tax assessment list, Martin Jr. is listed as a gunsmith.
In addition to his well documented and celebrated private gunsmithing activities, Martin Jr. was involved in supplying arms for the Revolutionary army, as evidenced by the following receipt:

                                         13th Sep 1776*
Appraised a smooth-bore gun, the property of Martin Shell, Jr. and paid by George Page, to be delivered to Michael Greens, Jr., at three pounds five shillings, and powder horn at three pence; the said Greens of Captain John Reed’s company.
Certified by:               Jacob Awl,
     James Burd**            James Thom,
                  Hugh Stephen

   *Given that Martin Jr. was 13-years old at this time, perhaps he was delivering a          rifle made by his father, Martin Sr.
   **James Burd was a Colonel, 4th Battalion.

In October 1792, given “the encroachments of the European powers upon the American rights,” the US Congress called on the states to organize provisional armies.  The militia of Dauphin county organized several battalions, among which was:
   3rd Battalion,
      Lieutenant-Colonel: John Andre Hanna
      Major: Thomas Forrester
   6th Company
      Captain: Robert McClure
      Lieutenant: Martin Shell

John Shell   b Dec 20, 1790; d Mar 27, 1875; buried in Shell’s Church Cemetery with his second and third wives.

1st wife: Jane Backenstow (b Jan 17, 1802; d Aug 25, 1822); married 1818
2nd wife: Mary Landis (b Sep 20 1805; d Feb 9, 1858); married Oct 5, 1824
3rd wife; Catharine Zehring (b Mar 2, 1800; d Sep 17, 1885); married Nov 9, 1858

John’s children, all by Mary Landis were:
•   John-Jacob (b April 29, 1829; d Mar 10, 1861)
•   Joseph (b 1830; d 1851)
•   Mary Elizabeth (b Jul 8, 1839; d Mar 10, 1868)
•   Rebecca (b Aug 1, 1830; d Jan 10, 1888)
o   Married Amos Early, gunsmith trained by John Shell

John is listed as a gunsmith in the 1817 tax records for Lower Paxton Township.  He later moved to West Hanover Township, just east of Lower Paxton Township and then to East Hanover Township.

John’s participation in the War of 1812 is well documented.  He was a Major (commissioned Aug 1, 1814) in the 2nd Battalion, 98th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia.

In 1821 John laid out the town of Shellsville, having operated a log structure hotel there for a number of years.  The town’s first store was opened in 1822 by John and his partner, Jacob Early.  Interestingly, the town was sometimes known as Earlysville, given that so many Earlys lived thereabouts.  In 1825, John donated two acres to the Lutheran and Reformed congregations for building a church.  Shells Church was built on the property later that same year.  John was the county coroner and later a county commissioner from 1847 to 1849.

Daniel Shell  b Nov 9, 1793; d Feb 6, 1864

Daniel’s first wife was Catherine Meffert (b Dec 26, 1797; d Oct 19, 1842).  They were married on Jan 9, 1817 and had three children:
•   Elizabeth (b Feb 14, 1818)
•   Susan (b Oct 14, 1821)
•   Louisa Catherine (b Oct 3, 1824)

Daniel’s second wife was Mary Horst (b Jan 18, 1809; d April 23, 1853).  They had no children.

By the 1850 US Federal Census, Daniel is living in Susquehanna Township in Dauphin County and has married Mary Horst.

During the War of 1812, several companies of volunteers from Harrisburg and Dauphin County were raised.  Daniel was in the First Regiment, 1st Brigade of the Pennsylvania Militia in Capt. Richard Knight’s company, assembling in York on September 5, 1814 after marching from Harrisburg.  From there, they marched to Baltimore in defense of that city.  Their service ended on March 5, 1814.

Daniel Shell is noted to have been involved in revolving cylinder rifles.  His name is reportedly on the barrel of a 5-shot, .48 caliber, hand-revolved Kentucky style revolving rifle.  The cylinder is released for turning by pulling on a button on the left side of the cylinder (needs further research).

Jacob (John-Jacob) Shell   b April 5, 1799; d Dec 13, 1866 and is buried in the Harrisburg Cemetery with his wife.  

Jacob married Catherine Backenstow (b Jun 11, 1802; d Jan 17, 1884) on Dec 28, 1820.  They had two children:
•   Cornelius Martin (b Nov 29, 1825; d Feb 16, 1864)
•   Edmund William (b May 12, 1838; d Feb 4, 1864)
Note:  Both brothers d young, within two weeks of each other.

John was elected sheriff of Dauphin County in 1848 and is included in the 1850 US Federal Census as living in Harrisburg, East Ward and having an occupation as sheriff.  

Martin III
There is a reference to Martin III in Sellers’ American Gunsmiths to Kindig’s book. This needs further research as I was unable to find a Martin III.

Note:  This research is very much a work in progress.  Whenever practical, primary sources are used, however, much of this is based on secondary sources, including earlier threads on this forum (thank all of you).  Comments, additions and corrections are welcome.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 07:54:07 PM by hurricane »

Offline Bill-52

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Re: ALR Museum proudly presents the Shell Family Geneology
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2009, 03:10:39 AM »

You are much too kind.  The more I worked to assemble this outline, the more I discovered the gaps and missing information.  A road trip to Harrisburg/Dauphin County will undoubtedly be necessary.

To reiterate, comments, corrections, etc. are appreciated.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 04:36:28 AM by Bill52 »


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Re: ALR Museum proudly presents the Shell Family Geneology
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2009, 10:17:20 AM »
Shell genealogy very much appreciated.  Thanks for finally straightening out the material on Martin Sr. and Jr.  This is the first time I have seen a thorough delineation.  JWH

Offline Majorjoel

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Re: ALR Museum proudly presents the Shell Family Geneology
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2009, 04:03:58 PM »
Many thanks to you Bill for sharing your family's ties! I too misunderstood the Martin Shell "mystery" connections you have so kindly revealed. I have been looking for any info on the sons of Maj. John Shell for some time. It is sad that the father had to out-live many of his children. Occurrences all too common in those days.  John Jacob died March 10 1861, I wonder if the Civil War had anything to do with his demise?
Joel Hall

Offline Bill-52

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Re: ALR Museum proudly presents the Shell Family Geneology
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2009, 11:03:14 PM »
Thanks JWH & Joel.  Appreciate it.

The instances of parents outliving their children were surprising.  And I even excluded the children that died in infancy.

The cemetery records have Cornelius (Jacob's son) dying of a "cold".  Made me wonder, flu, pneumonia, particularly since Cornelius died 2 weeks after his brother?  Possibly associated with the Civil War?  More research.....

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: ALR Museum proudly presents the Shell Family Geneology
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2009, 12:36:26 AM »
This disparity in life spans seems to have been a fact of life back in those times. Down in York County, father, Martin Fry (Frey) I died very young; his son Martin Fry II also died quite young, but the grandson/son, Martlin Fry III lived upwards of 75 years, or more. The first two had children and seemingly died in their thirties or early forties. There were a lot of diseases to carry one off in those times and it happened in my own family more than once.