Forest of the Dead…Reimagined

Forest of the Dead…Reimagined 

In my previous post “Silence in the Library…Broken”, I was making a reference to an episode of the British TV show, Doctor Who.  The first part of the title of this post “Forest of the Dead”, refers to the next episode of the same TV show situated in the same library. “Forest of the Dead” is referring to the forest wood that was used to create the books in the library. 

The second half of the title is my reference to me “reimagining” the information in a book called “Ensmingers from Pennsylvania and Alsace” by Dr. Raymond Martin Bell – 1994/2018.  There have been three other contributors to this book since Dr. Bell passed away in 1999. Those contributors are Brendan Wehrung, Dale Edward Ensminger and John Kurt Entsminger.  I have reached out to John Kurt Entsminger and we have begun a correspondence.  He has read my post “Silence in the Library…Broken”, so he is already acquainted with my work and this subject matter.  I’ve shared a new discovery with John that I believe may change some information that may seem small or trivial to some, but I believe may be significant to others. 

Ever since I started researching Valentine Miller and the Ensminger connections, there are two things that have always bothered me.  The birth year of Valentine Miller and his birth place. 

Right from the start, I will say this about Valentine Miller…based on the following evidence, Valentine Miller was not born in the year 1762.  You may be asking yourself…

” Why would you say that?” 

Valentine’s date of birth was recorded as 12 Jan 1762, and Theobaldt Mueller and Catherine Ensminger’s marriage date is recorded as 30 Nov 1762, which is long after Valentine was born.  It’s not impossible that these are the true dates of these two events, but I have something to show you that may add a thread of doubt to your mind (or even a whole spool of thread). 

Here is information given by Valentine Miller in his Revolutionary War pension papers from the pension application record #7227: 

Courtesy of the Southern Campaign America Revolution Pension Statements and Roster 

Based on the information given above, if Valentine Miller enlisted in Dec of 1776 and he was one month shy of being fourteen years of age, that would mean he would have been fourteen years old in Jan of 1777, thus making his birth year 1763, not 1762.  Why is this important? 

If Valentine Miller was born in the year 1763, then that means if Theobald Miller and Catherine Ensminger are his parents, Catherine would have been about seven months pregnant with Valentine when they were married on 30 Nov 1762.  This happened more often than you may think.  This moment of clarity now had me more inclined to be on the side of Valentine being the son of Theobald and Catherine. 

With the idea that Catherine was pregnant, and just newly married, could this have been one of the deciding factors or the deciding factor as to why Theobald and Catherine relocated to Frederick County, Maryland or Loudoun County, Virginia shortly after they were married?  Since a part of Catherine’s extended family had already relocated to Frederick County, it could explain quite a bit.  Philip Ensminger (1727-1807), Catherine’s uncle, had already moved his family to Frederick County, Maryland by 1760. 

If you are still not sure as to the question of whether or not pregnancy before marriage happened to our ancestors, I have another prime example to share with you… 

My 6x great-grandfather Johannes Mueller (1733-1796) had an older brother, Joh. Jacob Mueller (1728-????).  There are many people that have Joh. Jacob Mueller married to the wrong woman, and I really couldn’t prove it otherwise…until just a few years ago. 

Here is the marriage record, dated 5 Apr 1751 for Joh. Jacob Mueller and Anna Maria Lang (record obtained from the Strausstown Roots – Berger Girls): 



Apr. 5, Joh. Jacob Müller, son of Jacob Müller at Northkill, and Anna Maria Lang, also of Northkill, who did not enter upon their marriage with prayer and solemnity instead with carnal lustGod forgive them.”

Taken from the Records of Pastoral Acts at Christ Lutheran Church, Strouchsburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania – Part II 

Here is the birth record for Joh. Jacob Mueller’s first-born son, John Mueller b. 8 Nov 1751

Recorded Stoever Baptisms – Taken from Notes and Queries – Historical, Biographical and Genealogical Relating Chiefly to Interior Pennsylvania – Edited by William Henry Engle, Annual Vol. 1899 

If you do the math, Anna Maria Lang was two months pregnant when she married Jacob Müller, hence the admonishment of carnal lust they both received in the record noted above. 

Now, getting back to Valentine Miller, and the second problem I had, which was the location of where Valentine Miller was born based on the 12 Jan 1762 date of birth.  Below is a table of the defined information that concurs with the dates and locations given in Dr. Bell’s book: 

Name(s): Location: Date: Comment: 
Valentine Miller Loudoun County, VA 12 Jan 1762 (DOB) I never actually found a record of birth 
*Theobald Miller & Catherine Ensminger Cocalico Twp., Lancaster County, PA 30 Nov 1762 (DOM) 10-1/2 months after Valentine was born 
**Cath. Elisab. Ensminger Cocalico Twp., Lancaster County, PA 11 Sep 1742 (DOB) Father: Nicolaus Ensminger 

*Record of marriage from Muddy Creek Lutheran Church, Cocalico Township, Lancaster County PA (Ancestry©) 

**Record of birth from Muddy Creek Lutheran Church, Cocalico Township, Lancaster County PA (Ancestry©) 

Now, here’s the problem with this…if Valentine Miller was born in Loudoun Co., VA 10-1/2 months before Theobald Miller and Catherine Ensminger were married, what are the chances that Theobald and Catherine would travel all the way back to Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, PA, a trip of about 150 miles to tie the knot?  Also, since Catherine was clearly born in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, PA, doesn’t it make sense that Lancaster County is the place where she and Theobald Miller met? 

If I’m right that Valentine Miller was born in the year 1763, then this second problem goes away. 

So, although I’m still not 100% convinced that Valentine Miller was the son of Theobald Miller and Catherine Ensminger, I am much closer to a firm belief of that, but I still can’t hang my hat on a belief. 

Remember these three things: 

  1. When you have an ancestor that has very little documentation or records to verify parentage, siblings or children, take the records that you do have and read every single word. Do not leave anything out or skip over anything.  Read and re-read everything you have.  Give yourself the advantage over anything else you have seen or read on the internet or elsewhere, because you just might find something that no one else has ever thought of or discovered. 
  1. Question everything…play the devil’s advocate when there are doubts that crop up about what you are researching and reading.  Don’t give in to a false sense of security about an ancestor until you have absolute proof regarding the events and milestones in an ancestor’s life, and in those times when you can’t prove something about an ancestor, leave it and move on. We all have our brick walls to tear down, and sometimes it takes a while to do so.  Even so, in those times of frustration, the tiniest morsel of information that you find could change the tide into a tsunami that can tear down at least a portion of your brick wall. 
  1. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others that have done the legwork and have good documentation about one of your ancestors, and don’t be afraid to question them as well when you see something that doesn’t sit well with you.  Genealogy has been and always will be about finding the truth about our ancestors. 

Following these guidelines will not guarantee immediate results, but they will give you a new perspective on those ancestors that have been elusive and frustrating and a new approach to genealogy research itself.  It will also make you a better researcher. 




Strausstown Roots – Berger Girls 

Ensmingers from Pennsylvania and Alsace” by Dr. Raymond Martin Bell – 1994/2018 – Courtesy of the Library of Congress 

Notes and Queries – Historical, Biographical and Genealogical Relating Chiefly to Interior Pennsylvania – Edited by William Henry Engle, Annual Vol. 1899 

Featured Image: 

Inside Monticello-Thomas Jefferson’s Library – courtesy of The Jefferson Monticello 


John Kurt Entsminger – Thank you John for your input, generosity and new found friendship. 

As always, a huge thank you to my wife, Cheryl…thank you for just being there for me!  

Oh, one more thing… 

“…Are we good?…Doctor…Are we good?” “Yea, we’re good.” 

Love you Sweetie! 

3 thoughts on “Forest of the Dead…Reimagined

  1. Kudos for another well-done post, Brian. Timelines are so important to our research. I haven’t counted the number of marriages by ancestors “who did not enter upon their marriage with prayer and solemnity” but there have been quite a few of these “surprises.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Cathy! It was just one of those things that just “popped” out at me and I couldn’t get it off my mind, you know, one of those things that just keeps bugging you until you dug into it. Well, I dug into it and I’m glad I did. Not only did it resolve something for me, I made a new friend, John Kurt Entsminger. He also liked this post and asked that I continue to let him know when I post. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: I’ve Got Fenicals and Ensmingers in My Hair | Your Ancestors Demystified

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