The Zirkle Reunion of 1884

Shenandoah Herald, June 4, 1884, page 3.

The Zirkle Re-union.

According to previous announcement, there was a re-union of the Zirkle families in this region of country, held at the Endless Caverns, 4 miles south of this place, on Thursday, May 29, instant. There was a large crowd present, composed largely of Zirkle families and their relatives by consanguinity and affinity—the gathering embraced, say, some 250 or 300 persons—some 75 per cent of whom were were of that family—drawn together mostly from Shenandoah, Page, and Rockingham counties. John G. Zirkle and Lewis Zirkle, both born in the same year, aged 71, were the two oldest of that family present on this occasion, whilst Mabel M., daughter of Dr. M. S. Zirkle, of Edom, Va., was the youngest present, being 5 years of age.

References and Notes

  1. John G. Zirkle of New Market, (July 9, 1813 – August 31, 1884), son of George and Barbara Kagey Zirkle.
  2. Lewis Zirkle, probably Lewis H Zirkle or New Market/Tenth legion, (January 9, 1814 – August 25, 1899), son of Lewis and Nancy Elizabeth Caldwell Zirkle
  3. Mabel Moore Zirkle (June 17, 1878 – March 23, 1944), daughter of Moses S and Magdalena C (Maggy) Beery Zirkle.

The Kägy Connection

Here’s some more family history, pertinent to both the Zirkle and Will families, that we find in Franklin Keagy’s A History of the Kägy Relationship In America, Harrisburg, 1899, pages 460-461, 611-612.

The third emigration of Kägys to this country took place Oct. 27, 1764, when the ship “Hero,” Ralph Forster, captain, from Rotterdam, last from Cowes, arrived with 500 passengers (194 of whom were adults), the balance were under 16 years of age. Among this number was one Rudolph Kagy, the progenitor of this branch. It is quite certain that this Kägy located in Pennsylvania and remained there until after the close of the Revolutionary War. When he left Pennsylvania to take up his residence in Virginia is not now (1899) definitely known. The most definite and reliable information we have thus far able to get has been furnished by John Kägy, of Tiffin, O., in a letter to his son, Dr. Isaac Kägy, of near the same city, which I insert here “verbatim et literatim:”

“Dear son Isaac: According to your request, I will give you a biography of the Kägy family as near as I can remember. So far as our family is concerned, I will commence with my grandfather and grandmother. They were both from germany and settled in Pennsylvania, where they had a good property, which grandfather sold and tool the avails of it all in Continental money. He intended to move from Pennsylvania to to Virginia to buy property at the latter place, but he delayed so long in doing so that the money he had received for his Pennsylvania property became worthless, and so he became poor and dependent on manual labor to make a living. He however moved to Virginia and raised quite a large family. They lived in Shenandoah Co. (the place of my nativity), on a small stream called Holeman’s Creek, where he undertook to raise a saw-mill. He and another man went out into the woods to prepare some timber to raise a mill. The man who was with grandfather cut down a tree which fell against another and then fell back where grandfather was sitting and killed him. So grandmother became a widow, and some time afterwards married a man by the name of Jacob Miller, with whom she was living when we left Virginia.

“There were seven children in my grandfather’s family when he died, three boys and four girls. The names of the boys were Christian, Rudolph and Jacob. The names of the two older girls were Barbara and Elizabeth. I have forgotten the names of the two youngest girls. As to their marriage, Christian married Mary Bibler; father (Rudolph) married Hannah Siple; Jacob married Rebecca Bibler, sister to Mary Bibler above named. The two girls married as follows: Barbara married George Zirkle; Elizabeth married David Wine; one whom I cannot name married Samuel Wine, brother of David Wine; and the fourth married Samuel Good.

Thus I have given you a description of our ancestors. Now as to the other Kageys, with whom our relationship is very distant, so thta I cannot give you anything more than the names of some of the older ones, with whom I was acquainted. There was old Henry Kagey, who owned a mill on Smith’s creek; Isaac, who was the miller in said mill; Jacob, who was a Mennonite preacher; John, who was a preacher among the Dunkards, so-called, but now named Triune Baptists; then there was Rudolph, who had a large family of boys, with whom I was never acquainted. All these old Kageys were brothers and respectable people.

“The old ones are dead and no more, and the young ones are scattered throughout the States. This I have given you all the information concerning the Kägys that I am able to according to my recollection.

Your father,

John Kagy.”

The only error, if such it be, in the above statement of John Kägy is the omission of the daughter Anna’s name. It is certain that there was a daughter Anna, which makes five daughters.

From Mrs. Catherine Knupp, of Moore’s Store, Virginia, I have learned that Rudolph Kägy was unmarried when he came to this country and settled in Pennsylvania. His wife, who was Frances Barglebaugh, was 14 years old when she came to America from Germany.

From I. D. Rupp’s 30,000 Emigrants to Pennsylvania, I learn that one Johau Jost Birckelbach came to this country from Rotterdam Oct 29, 1770, on the ship “Sally,” John Osmond, master, 143 passengers. He is confidently believed to be the parent of Frances Birckelbach, who became the wife of Rudolph Kägy…

Mr. Benjamin Zirkle, of Mt. Horeb, Tennessee, a son of Geo. Zirkle, who married Barbara, the daughter of Rudolph Kägy, says in a letter to the Editor dated April 24, 1890: “I recollect hearing my mother say that her father told her that he came from Switzerland; he was a Mennonite and brought his church letter with him. My mother always said, in speaking of the Shenandoah Co. Kageys, that they were cousins in Switzerland. I never heard her say that her father, Rudolph Kägy, had any brothers or sisters.” In regard to the Continental money that Rudolph Kägy received for his property sold in Pennsylvania, Mr. Zirkle says: “My mother told me that they left Pennsylvania in the fall of the year and by spring the money became worthless. A handkerchief of it was used to light the fire in cooking. Mr. Zirkle says: “I saw a few pieces of it around my father’s house.” From the above statements, coming as they do from so authentic a source, we are led to believe that Rudolph Kägy left Pennsylvania in 1781…

References and Notes

  1. Benjamin Zirkle, son of George Zirkle and Barbara Kagey, was the husband of Susan Ruth Pennywitt, daughter of John Pennywitt and Susan Will. See M. Alberta Swartz, “Three Interesting Families,” Jacob William Harpine’s histories of the Harpine and Zirkle families, and Bell.
  2. Barbara Kagey (1779-1863), daughter of immigrants Rudolph Kägy and Frances Bargelbaugh, married George Zirkle (1780-1857), son of George Adam Zirkle and Elizabeth Ridenour. George Zirkle 1780 is the grandson of the immigrant Johann Ludwig Zirkle from Germany.

The Smith Creek Zirkles

This is a transcript from the Shenandoah Press, New Market, Virginia, August 18, 1893. It was taken from an address made by Edgar L. Zirkle at the Zirkle Reunion of 1893.This comes to us from History of the Roush family in America : from its founding by John Adam Rausch in 1736 to the present time, p. 678-680.

The first Zirkle who settled on Smith Creek, in Rockingham County, Virginia, was Lewis Zirkle, who located in that region of the county at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He came from Pennsylvania, that portion where Philadelphia now stands. He carried on a tannery and farming, was prosperous and accululated a large estate. He married a lady by the name of Miss Mary Magdalena Roush, and their issue consisted of four sons and four daughters. He died at the age of seventy years, and his body and that of his wife are buried in St. Matthews Lutheran church graveyard, he having given the ground for the first Lutheran church at New Market, Virginia. At the time he died he owned fifteen hundred acres of ground, a good tannery and fine mill property. His son Lewis lived and died on Smith Creek. His children consisted of six sons and five daughters. He died in his 77th year of age. His sons, Lewis and Reuben, the former oldest Zirkle living, are both present here today. Daniel, his oldest son, lived and died on the old home place four miles southeast of New Market, on Smith Creek, in Rockingham County. His issue consisted of six sons and four daughters. John D., his eldest son, married Sophia Crim, their issue being eight daughters and five sons—in all thirteen children. Lewis married Rebecca Henkel as his first wife and Mrs. Mary R. Walker as his second wife, who still survives him—there being no issue in either case. Ephraim Perry was unmarried. Jacob married Emily Rice, their issue being three children, one son and two daughters. Having become a widow she married John H. Crawford, of Augusta County, both of whom still survive. William [and] Martha Miller, of Winchester, Virginia, their issue being three children, a son and two daughters. Isaac died unmarried. Malinda married Rev. John P. Cline, had nine children, five sons and four daughters. Mary M. married Noah I henkel, their issue being three children, two sons and one daughter. She is the only survivor of his children, being now in the 78th year of her age. Elizabeth died unmarried. Catherine married Cyrus Koiner, their issue being two children, both sons, their elder being G. W. Koiner, a member of the Virginia legislature from Augusta County, and the other, Dr. A. K. Koiner, who recently died in Roanoke, Virginia, being a prominent physician. Daniel, ancestor of the above posterity, died in February, 1850. Another of the sons of that original settler, Lewis Zirkle, named John, moved to Salem, then Botetout County. His children consisted of two sons and two daughters. The brother of that original settler, named Peter, located at the head of the James River.

The Zirkle Reunion of 1893

Prof. Gordon K. Zirkle wrote in his book The Zirkle Family in America about the big Zirkle Family reunion. It was held in 1893, the story being abridged from The Shenandoah Valley and The Shenandoah Press of August, 1893. The story as written:

New Market, Virginia…Thursday, August 10, 1893. The Zirkles and their friends, to whom a cordial invitation had been extended, held a family reunion and general picnic in Miss. Nannie Quick’s woods, one mile west of Quicksburg, Virginia. Preparation had been made on a vast scale, in anticipation of a vast concourse of people.

The people began to pour in at an early hour from all directions: in carriages, wagons, horses, and foot back. Free hacks ran back and forth from the railroad station conveying many to the field.

“The woods was full of ‘em when we arrived: the steam Merry-go-Round, the musical phonograph, vendors of cooling drinks, ice cream, cake and candy, the photographers tent, and watermelons…all on the outer side of the huge circle… while within it was the speaker’s stand and benches, also a large hollow square of picnic tables. Around about were giant water-tanks filled with tons of ice.

Bustle and activity were in all directions: the young, the old, the middle-aged—all greeting each other cordially, happily, freely. All went “Merry as a Marriage Belle”. If no weddings come from this gathering of so many charming, healthy young ladies, and so much display of culinary art…such men are really doomed to remain bachelors, and well deserve their fate. Brass bands were playing from Hamburg and Cabin Hill, also a string band with organ from New Market.

More than 2000 were present—about half were Zirkles and related families. We met hundreds of them from Shenandoah, Page and Rockingham Counties. From distant parts of the country we note the following—Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hershberger of Baltimore and two sons; Columbus, Ohio—W. B. Rinker, grandmother a Zirkle; Terre Haute, Ohio—Eramus Zirkle (whose father Michael Zirkle left here 64 years ago) wife and daughter; Mrs. Catherine Z. Dingledine, age 70, whose brother Michael Zirkle lives at Dialton, Ohio, They arrived yesterday at A. J. Zirkles near Forestville. And “Uncle Lewis” age 80, was the oldest of the family present, with his brother Reuben, age 66, both of Rockingham County. Dinner was announced and after all had eaten, there was still plenty for thousands more. A very pleasant day.

The assembly was called to order then. Professor J. Milton Zirkle spoke as follows: “Uncles and Aunts, innumerable cousins, who have honored us with your presents…Ladies and Gentlemen: we have no language to express our feelings to this vast assemblage gathered here in our reunion today. All of you are aiding us in making this a day of pleasure. A day of social enjoyment. We say to you with a heart overflowing with love and goodwill…we bid you a hearty welcome!”

“This Reunion, a day of handshaking and pleasant conversation brings to us something of the immensity of our family, a wonderful family from the North, South, East and West numbered in the thousands. And all of us are descendants of five…within little more than a century! I am appointed by the committee to speak for the descendants of the two original fathers who settled on Holman’s Creek near the village of Forestville…”

“I shall say, by way of introduction, that in about the year 1725 our old ancestor, Ludwig Zirkle, left Germany to seek a home in this country. He settled in Pennsylvania and raised a family of five sons and as far as we have been able to learn, two daughters. In about the year 1760 or so, those five sons came to Virginia. Two of them settled on Holman’s Creek, namely, Michael and Andrew; one on the river (George Adam); and two on Smith Creek (Lewis and Peter). One of the Smith Creek brothers (Peter), however, moved to Botecourt County (located at the head of the James River).”

Here Professor Zirkle referred to a diagram chart erected in the rear of the platform, surmounted by six large circles, bearing numerous arrowheads…the collection being found on the Zirkle farm at an old fort. This was the work of Mr. Julius Zirkle who has over 2,000 of them. He continued by saying that the Zirkles were a family of pioneers…”Michael and Andrew often being required to send their children to the fort to keep them safe from Indian atrocities.”

Again referring to the diagram, he said: “I have made a little calculation as to what will be the probable number of the descendants of those five brothers. In one hundred years hence, at the present rate of increase…there will be 1,960,000. And this being Columbus Year suggests the idea…that it will be necessary to discover a new country for the Zirkles.”

After music by the brass band, Dr. F. E. Rice… who spoke as follows: “I have the honor of appearing before you as the trumpeter…of the River branch of the Zirkle family; from the days of George Adam Zirkle to the present, and consisting of six generations.” He then read from the book, “The Family Records of George Adam Zirkle’s Descendants.” by Moses A. Zirkle.

Mr. Elon O. Henkel was the next speaker…following is a sketch read by Mr. Henkel, prepared by Edgar L. Zirkle…embracing that branch of the family that settled on Smith Creek in Rockingham County, Virginia.

“Lewis Zirkle (our Boyd ancestor), located in that region at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He came from Pennsylvania, that portion where Philadelphia now stands. He carried on a tannery and farming, was prosperous and accumulated a large estate. He married a lady by the name of Miss Roush and their issue consisted of four sons and four daughters. He died at the age of 70 years, and his body and that of his wife are buried in St. Matthew Lutheran graveyard; he having the ground for the first Lutheran church in New Market, Virginia. At the time he died he owned fifteen hundred acres of land, a good tannery and fine mill property.

The brother of the original settlers…named Peter, was located at the head of the James River. Letters asking for information have been written to different interested parties, but so far, no answers. With the announcement that the Zirkles congregate to be photographed by Mr. Broun, the exercises closed.

German Roots of the Zirkle Family

The Zirckle Family who came to America in the early 1720′s, came from a country that had been war-torn for many years. For this was during the time of the 30 year war between France and Germany. In their day our family lived in the most fertile garden spot in the Deutschland (Germany). The place was the Rhine-Nekar River Valley. Of course, they spoke the Deutsche (German) language every day.

The Palatinates were prosperous farmers. Due to the mass, widespread, scorched-earth destruction of the French-German War of 1685-1699 many were killed, fields destroyed totally ruining the area. The population was cut from 500,000 to 50,000. William Penn, son of Admiral Penn, traveled up and down the Rhine Valley seeking for setters for Penn’s colony in the New World. His mother was German, and he spoke their language. Soon after 1700 a stream of Palatinates started down the Rhine to Rotterdam to England and the Port of Philadelphia. Travel agents called New-Landers were paid to promote the movement. Thousands of little pamphlets were issued extolling the virtues of the new land across the sea. One of them was Daniel Falkner’s little booklet describing how good life was around Philadelphia. Parson Anthony Jacob Henkel had served five congregations in the Palatinate until 1717 when he emigrated to Pennsylvania. His last parish was at Neckargemund (five mile from Heidelberg), where the Elsenz Creek joins the Nekar River. He lived at New Hanover, Pennsylvania, which is now in Montgomery County. The German settlements grew in Pennsylvania by leaps and bounds.

The refugee emigrants packed all their belongings in trunks including equipment that would be needed in the new land. They also packed a large supply of dried fruit and other food to last them down the Rhine, through the custom house delays, and the great sea voyage.

Life aboard ship was crude and often the sea so furious that men cursed the day they set sail and prayed to die and be spared the storms ahead. Food became foul, wormy and revolting. Diseases, scurvy, boils, lice and filth spread the misery and suffering. Often large numbers died and were buried at sea. To say the voyage across the sea was rigorous would be an understatement.

Later the public authorities would require a health inspection of immigrants and an oath of allegiance to the crown and the proprietor. Thereby began the practice of making a list of all persons on each ship to enforce the regulations. The ship lists began in 1727 for the Port of Philadelphia. The Zirckle’s came before then.

Heinrich (Henry) Zirckle was our immigrant ancestor who came from the little town of Ittlingen, Baden, in Germany. He brought with him his son Ludwig and his twin sister Anna Maria. They settled in Pennsylvania.

In the year 1955, Rev. Zirckle, in quest of the ancestry of Heinrich Zirckle and the birthplace of his son Ludwig, was in correspondence by letter with a William Zirckle of Chicago,

Illinois. William put him in touch with a Mr. Wilhelm Zirckle of Ravensburg, West Germany who eventually contacted a Pastor Heinz Schuchmann in Duhren, near Sinshein in Baden Germany. After about a year, a letter finally came with the complete record of Ludwig’s birthplace and material on his parents and grandparents. The letter was mailed on December 13, 1955, by Pastor Heinz Schuchmann on his official stationery. Here is the record of Ludwig Zirckle as given by Pastor Schuchmann:

Heinrich Zirckle, Lutheran, Occupation unknown, Wife Euphrosina

CHILDREN:
1. Johann Heinrich, named as godfather & unmarried in Ittllingen in 1722.
2. Hans Martin Born 8/22/1701 in Ittlingen.
3. Eva Margretha Born 1/20/1703 in Ittlingen.
4. Johann Ludwig Z. Born 10/9/1705 in Ittlingen.}Twin
5. Anna Maria Born 10/9/1705 in Ittlingen.}Twin
6. Eva Rosina Born 9/1/1710 in Ittlingen

Concerning Ludwig Zirckel’s grandparents, Pastor Schuchmann reports their wedding record from the Evangelical Parish register of Reihen (another small nearby town in Sinsheim): “the 23 of January 1672 are married Joh. Lofenius Zirkel, the leaved son of the died Conrad Zurckel, Chaplain (Caplan) in Hambach in the County of Solms Braunfels (Palatinate), to Catherine, the leaved daughter of the died Heinrich Hirtzel, citizen of Reyheim (today Reihen).”

Pastor Schuchmann further states that: “Johann Lofenius Zirckel a Lutheren citizen and smith (farrier), settled in Kirchardt, then in Babstadt, where he died. He had emigrated after the Thirty Years War 1618-48 into this depopulated county in the Territory of the Lutheran Knights of the Kraichgau in the Palatinate. His wife Catherine Hirtzel was born in Switzerland, in the village Aublikon (parish Pfeffikon), the daughter of Hans Heinrich Hirtzel and his wife Maria Steiner. After the Great Thirty Years War, the Hirtzels also settled in Reihen where their relative, Pastor Clemens Hirtzel, a Calvinist clergyman from Winterthur in Switzerland, was minister from 1651 to 1670.” Their children (all born in Kirchardt):

1. Ursula b. 1/30/1672
2. Hans Jacob b. 4/20/1674
3. Heinrich b. 11/10/1676
4. Anna Maria b. 3/19/1678
5. Hans Georg b. 3/30/1680
6. Katherina b. 8/10/1682
7. Anna Barbara b.4/13/1684
8. Johann b. 5/5/1685

The Zirkle Family In America

Considerable information about the history of the Zirkle Family in America is contained in a sermon delivered by the Reverend Gordon Zirkle on the occasion of the 225th Anniversary Service of the founding of the Little Zion Lutheran Church, Indianfield Road, Telford, Pennsylvania on May 20th, 1955. Ludwig Zirkel donated the land, assisted in building it, and worshipped there with his family. The Reverend Gordon Zirkle’s address is as follows:

“Congratulations Dr. Brobst and to all the members of Little Zion Lutheran Church on the celebration of your Two Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary Year!

I have come to join my voice with yours, here in the house our fathers built, to enter into his court with praise as the Psalmist says, for today, the Festival of Pentecost, we are indeed grateful to God for the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I commend you for your faithfulness for two and a quarter centuries, and I rejoice with you on this anniversary year for you are an active, living, growing congregation.

More than two centuries ago when our forefathers, the pioneer settlers, walked upon this new land, they were happy to be here, for the Rhine River Valley in Germany had become a difficult place in which to live and raise a family. The pioneers who settled here in Indianfield, were refuges as well as immigrants from Germany. The Rhine Valley had been a battlefield, caught between armies going back and forth over it. There were wars and rumors of wars, marching and counter marching, hoof beats and shrieking outcries, burning and burying, and blood and grief and senseless destruction for as long as anyone could remember. During the Thirty Years War, whole areas were depopulated.

In the early 1700′s, William Penn went to the Rhine Valley, seeking people to settle in his vast tract of land that the King of England had granted him. His mother was German, so when he went through the Rhineland speaking German and inviting people to the New World, there was a great response. Soon there was a steadily growing stream of hundreds, then thousands, who pulled up their roots and headed for the colony far across the vast ocean. Not only was there plenty of land for everyone, its chief city had an appealing name; Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

There were calm days in crossing the ocean, when the ship would stand still for many days for the want of wind. On other days, the North Atlantic would test their limits of endurance. Sailors were thrown about as they climbed the rigging, set the sails, battened the hatches and lashed the shifting cargo, as if fighting for their very lives against the raging sea. The passengers were herded below deck, tossed upon each other in the swirling filth. Their food was often foul and wormy, and many were afflicted with scurvy, fever and epidemics. As much as a fourth of the passengers died during the voyage and were buried in the North Atlantic.

When at last they arrived at the Port of Philadelphia, we can only imagine how happy they were to be in the New World But if they had not been able to pay their fare, they faced the German Slave Market, as it was then called, and were auctioned off as indentured servants to work seven or more years of servitude.

When the immigrants reached the growing edge of the wilderness, they leased a tract of land in the wild area, where they began anew to plant their crops, put down roots and to establish themselves. This church was founded about two years before the birth of George Washington The Will of Ludwig Zirkel reads in part as follows:

I, being sick and weak in body, but of perfect mind and memory, thanks be given unto God…Be it known that I, Ludwig Zirkel, a long time agoe, have given one acre of my land for the proper Lutheran Church where the congregation have built upon, one church. She is to have and to hold, so long as the sun and moon
is shining…

With the marriage of his daughter Margaretha, is recorded in your Church Register, in 1753, a notation “have gone to Virginia”. Little Zion left an impression upon the Zirkel Family which they took with them to the Virginia frontiers. I feel sure that Pastor Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, the Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in the Colonies, was responsible for this. There were problems within the congregations young people. He wrote in his journal between 1749 and 1751 that due to the congregation having an unworthy pastor, that he himself “instructed the poor young people who had been neglected, and confirmed thirty-two of them”.

In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Five Zirkel Brothers were active in the church. Andrew was a delegate to the Ministerium of Pennsylvania in 1784 at which time Pastor Paul Henkel was licensed to preach. Michael Zirkel had his 14 children baptized at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church in New Market, my home church.

When the younger generation became crowded for land, they went West and were among the first settlers of Ohio. The signpost of the church they founded at Thackery, Ohio, to this day, bears the name of “Zerkel Lutheran Church”.

By faith our forefathers sold their homes, left their native land, crossed the vast and furious ocean, endured servitude, hewed down the forests, cleared the stump, broke the sod, built log houses in the East and sod houses in the West. They constructed barns, court houses, churches, schools, and roads; voted in new governments and created a new style of living, a Nation Under God, who sustained our fathers and is leading us forward toward brotherhood and plenty for all, till the time comes when we shall be gathered up with our faithful brothers and sisters of all generations, “Before the Throne of God and the Lamb”.

Little Zion Lutheran Church has been for two and a quarter centuries, a well beside the road, offering refreshment to countless travelers. Here is a quiet place to pause and converse with the Architect of the Universe, and consider the wonder of it all. May your blessings in the centuries ahead, be as many as the pebbles on the seashore and the stars in the Heavens! Congratulations.”

Notes by Greg Scircle

The Family Zirkel arrived from Germany, at Philadelphia, in 1724. Ludwig Zirkel had 5 sons and 2 daughters. He purchased land North of Philadelphia, in Telford, where the family lived until his death in 1748. The mother and the 7 children moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 1751. They settled in the New Market area where they prospered in land holdings. They established schools, churches, farms, and other businesses that are still carried on to this day. On Holmans Creek, near New Market, VA, the Ludwig Zirkel II farm shared a common boundary with the grandfather of Abraham Lincoln. And later, in Oklahoma, a family of Zirkle’s were next door neighbors to the James Family (Frank & Jessie). Another illustrious member of the family, Dr. Milton Zirkle, was a Biologist on the Manhattan Project, that developed the Atom Bomb.

Today, members of the Familie Zirkel are to be found in all walks of life, and are scattered throughout the United States.

Information received from Wilhelm Zirkel, Ravensburg, Germany, relates to the origin of the family name. It was written in a book published by Duke Ferdinand of Bavaria, in the year 1603:

“The name Zirkel is explained by Dr. Brinkmeier (Glossarium, Vol. II, p.754) and Dr. Karl Brechenmacher, German Family Names of 1503 as follows: From Bezirk, the German word for County or District, Zirkel or Ring, Round or Gaurde(Wachrunde). Therefore, the original name, Zirker or Zirkeler would have come from a characteristic of the original father during the introduction of family names as such, must have been recorded in the 14th century. The name Zircon first appears in Austria in the 14th century, and reappears in Germany as Zirckel, and becomes Zirkel, in the 15th Century.”

The Zirkle Connection

The Zirkle Connection, A brief history of Roller Family Ties, compiled by Charles E. Roller, January 1998.

The Zirkle family heritage in Colonial America is extremely rich in history and worthy of much more study than I can provide in this chapter. To get an idea of how the Zirkle and Roller family trees entwined, we must step back in time a few hundred years to Central Europe. The information that follows is based on historical fact and the family information is based on the data that I have gathered so far. Where I take literary license to speculate and draw conclusions will be made clear to the reader.

The Zirkle name is spelled several ways in the parish records found at the “Evangelische Landeskirche in Baden” (Church Archives) in Karlsruhe, Germany and in other genealogical records. Some of the variations are Zirkel, Zurkle, Zirckel, Zirkell, and sometimes in America, Cirkle, Sircle, Scircle, and Circle. [The Circle spelling probably originated from an overworked immigration worker struggling with the spelling of another strange sounding German name.] To keep it simple, I will use what seems to be the current spelling, Zirkle.

The furthest back we can go along the Zirkle family tree is to Conrad Zirkle who was born between 1610 and 1628. Although Conrad’s birth year is unknown, the range is about right because his son, Johannes was born around 1650. Since we don’t have records on Johannes’ siblings, we can speculate that if Johannes was Conrad’s first child and born in 1650, Conrad was probably about 22 years old. If, on the other hand, Johannes was the last of a typical family of around 7 children, then Conrad’s birth could be pushed back to as far as 1610.

The church records are quite interesting. The Kirchardt parish book lists births, baptisms, marriages and deaths from 1651 to 1786. That sixty-five year period filled a book that is less than one inch thick of very heavy stock paper. The book is laid out in an orderly fashion. In the back of the book is an alphabetic listing and date for entered names. The pages are laid out in five columns. For births, the columns list the parents names, the child’s name, the godparents names, the date of birth and what looked like a “remarks” column that was mostly blank. According to other records that I cannot verify, it seems that Kirchardt is where Johnannes was born, although his name was not listed in the church book.

The Kirchardt record is at odds with the genealogical information provided to the family, which was taken mostly from Gordon K. Zirkle’s book, “Zirkle Family in America – Germany to Pennsylvania.” The reason for the discrepancy is probably due to the fact that most of Mr. Zirkle’s research came from microfilm records held by the Genealogical Society of Utah. When a record is microfilmed, some of the quality of the original is lost. Faded entries might be easier to read on the original. Handwriting varies in legibility as well, and styles of German script changed considerably over time. The Kirchardt book was written in Old German script that my friendly English-speaking German Archivist was kind enough to interpret. He noted that every January birth month was incorrect. The Utah interpreter obviously mistook the German word for July, “Juni,” as Jan. In addition, the German number 1 is written with two long lines that look similar to an inverted V and sometimes mistaken for a 7. Other errors were noted and corrections made to my records and will be shared with the Genealogical Society of Utah. To add further confusion to the issue of accurate dates, all years are normally given as they appear in the old records with no transposition for the change from the Julian to the present Gregorian calendar. That change seems to have taken place around 1679 in this area of Germany. English lands, including the colonies made the change in 1752, at which time 11 days were dropped from the calendar. In some books the correction is noted, for example, as “January 12, 1698/99.”

Conrad Zirkle’s son, Johannes, was a Lutheran and a Farrier (cared for horses). He married Katharina Hirtzel on January 23, 1672 in Sinsheim, about 2 miles northwest of Kirchardt. Before we learn more about Johannes, let’s get an idea of how Katharina, born around 1650 in Aublihan Parish, Pfeffikon, Switzerland, might have come to the Kirchardt area of Germany.

The Reformation and Religious Persecution

On the eve of the Reformation, Europe was a place of seething religious, economic and political unrest. Corruption in the Roman Catholic Church seemed to have reached all levels of the clergy. The rulers of the various central European states were contemplating open resistance against the power of the Holy Roman Empire. A growing middle class of merchants and artisans was resentful of the hereditary privileges of the aristocrats. At the bottom were the peasants, a powerless mass abused by both church and state.

Religious reformers provided the spark, which ignited the upheaval that became the Reformation. In 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany. The ideas in those theses led to Luther’s excommunication from the Catholic Church and to the formation of several new religious movements. Luther broadened the conflict with the Church by asking for and receiving protection from the prince of Saxony. In time, other dissatisfied rulers soon joined the movement, bringing a political dimension to the conflict.

By 1525, reformers in Switzerland argued for “believer’s baptism” – baptism by adults after a statement of faith. Because members of the new movement baptized adults, all of whom were baptized into the Catholic Church as infants, they were called Anabaptists, meaning “rebaptizers.” This movement was the origin of the Mennonite and Amish faiths. The Anabaptists had three basic ideas. First, the rejection of infant baptism. Second, they advocated a separation between church and state. Third, most Anabaptists refused to take up the sword to defend themselves or the state, practicing instead Christ’s admonition to turn the other cheek. These ideas had political as well as religious appeal to the peasants and middle class, which were unhappy with the injustices of the time.

Persecution of the Anabaptists, Lutherans and other non-Catholic religions soon followed. Thousands were thrown into prison, tortured and killed during the Reformation. In 1635, Zurich, Switzerland began a systematic campaign to eradicate all Anabaptists from the canton. Rather than creating martyrs with public execution, the government placed some Anabaptists in prison, where torture and neglect led to their deaths. Other members of the movement were stripped of their possessions and expelled from the canton. Within twenty years the Protestant cantons of Switzerland were at war with all five Catholic cantons.

To make matters worse, the manipulative hand of France’s King Louis XIV was behind much of the religious unrest of the 17th century (or more accurately at this time since Louis was in his teens, France’s Catholic Cardinal Richelieu). To begin with, France needed Swiss mercenaries – between 6,000 and 16,000 per year – for its wars and was prepared to offer commercial privileges to high-ranking Swiss in return. Switzerland ended up as a dependency of the French Crown in all but name. Things might not have stopped there had France not been kept in rein by Britain and Holland.

The above offers one scenario for the Hirtzels to move from Switzerland, but why would they end up in Reihen, Germany? To answer that, a bit of history is required:

1555 – The Peace of Augsburg followed the principle, “like master, like man,” in that whoever had political sovereignty over an area could determine its religious faith. There were three seats of power in this part of Germany; the Catholic Church in Speyer, the Lutheran ducal family in Wuttemberg, and the Prince Elector of the Palatinate in Heidelberg. The electors of the Palatinate changed their religion four times in as many reigns. If you were a member of an out of favor religion, you could encounter persecution such as the inability to meet as groups, the loss of possessions, banishment, torture and death. Members of the Reformed Church were not permitted to practice their religion with the liberty they desired. They were forced to share their church buildings with the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics, and were required to use the Heidelberg Catechism.

1598 – The Edict of Nantes by Henry IV of France gives Protestant Huguenots equal political rights to Catholics along with the right to obtain some fortified towns and to hold political office.

1608 – The Prince Elector, Frederick IV, organizes a Protestant Union.

1609 – A Catholic League, organized under the leadership of Bavaria’s Duke Maximillan, mobilizes its forces to oppose the Protestant Union. And what are some of the small villages that lie between these forces? That’s right, Kirchardt and Ittlingen. At first the conflict was settle diplomatically with the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II permitting limited free exercise of religion.

1612 – 1648 — Emperor Rudolf II dies and is succeeded by his less tolerant brother, Matthias. Fighting erupts between Catholic and Protestant factions that leads in 1618 to the beginning of the Thirty-Year War. The 1622 battle of Wieslock, which is only about 13 miles west of Kirchardt, was a short-lived Protestant victory. There were many bloody battles to follow. In 1623 the famous Palatine Library in Heidelberg is carried off by imperial troops as war booty. The Catholic Edict of Restitution in 1629 restores ecclesiastic estates in Europe and permits free exercise of religion only to adherents of the 1530 Confession of Augsburg. All other “sects” are to be broken up. Troops of the Catholic League enforce the Edict by showing no mercy to the “heretics.” France and Sweden enter the war on the side of the Protestants in 1631 as the war widens.

The Thirty-Year War ended with the Peace of Westphalia on October 24, 1648. The Protestants were victorious, but the religious conflict, along with scurvy, typhus and the Black Death plague, left Central Europe devastated and depopulated to only twenty five percent of the pre-war inhabitants. Religious sects that were previously unwelcome in the German States were invited by Prince Elector Karl Ludwig II to rebuild the devastated land. Religious persecutees from France and Switzerland came as early as 1651 to repopulate the villages and farms around Sinsheim.

This offers one scenario of how the Hirtzel family came from Switzerland to Reihen, Germany. The Hirtzels must have come to the region as a large family group. The Riehen church book (1650-1870) lists the deaths of twelve Hirtzels from 1663 to 1746. Catharina’s grandfather, Henrich died in 1663, and her grandmother died at the age of 70 ½. One of her relatives (possibly an aunt) was credited as having midwifed 400 children over a twenty-four year period.

It is uncertain how the Zirkles faired in the Thirty-Year War but the village of Ittlingen was completely destroyed – only the stump of the church tower remained. Along with the destruction of the villages, all records prior to 1650 from all but six villages in the region were destroyed. We may not be able to trace the Zirkle family tree back further than the sketchy information we have on Conrad.

It is not know at this time if Kirchardt suffered similar destruction as Ittlingen during the Thirty-Year War as Ittlingen. Whatever the damage, Kirchardt is where Johannes was born around 1650 to Conrad Zirkle. At the time of Johannes birth, Kirchardt was a small village with few family names. With so few prospects for marriage, it was common for several brothers and sisters to marry into another family. And just how did Johannes Zirkle and Catharina Hirtzel meet? The answer is easy, they were cousins. Johannes mother and Katharina’s father were siblings and children of Henrich and Veronica Hirtzel.

The union of Johannes and Katharina produced seven children. Their third child, Henrich, was born in 1676 in Kirchardt. He, like his father, was listed as a Lutheran. Henrich settled in Ittlingen some time before 1700 (Ittlingen is about 2 miles southwest of Reihen). Henrich and his wife, Eve Euphrosina, had six children between about 1700 and 1710.

As if the Thirty-Year War wasn’t enough to chase the Zirkles from Germany, what other reasons could they have to come to America? To begin with, by 1700, Karl Ludwig’s repopulation plan proved to be too successful. The area was now overcrowded. A historical look at what the French were up to in the late 1600s offers other compelling reason to emigrate:

1672 – A French army of 100,000 crosses the Rhine River without warning and invades the Dutch republic as Louis XIV acts to punish the Dutch who gave refuge to his political and religious critics.

1671 and 1677 – William Penn traveled throughout the Palatinate, preaching in Worms and Kriegsheim. His prospectus, Some Accounts of the Province of Pennsylvania, was written for the purpose of attracting settlers. Translated into Dutch, German, and French, it had a wide circulation throughout the Rhineland. A little later, Queen Anne, in an attempt to draw settlers to the lands along the Hudson that the English had taken away from the Dutch, painted America in colors so glowing that the prospectus issued in her name came to be known as The Golden Book of Queen Anne.

1674 – French troops devastate the Palatinate region of Germany. Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor join the Dutch in a coalition to frustrate the ambitions of France’s Louis XIV.

1675 – France recovers all of the Alsace region and retreats across the Rhine. Swedish allies of Louis XIV invade northern Germany but are repelled.

1679 – Four new treaties are signed in Nijmegan, settling many disputes between France, Holland, Sweden, Denmark and the Holy Roman Empire.

1681 – Pennsylvania has its beginnings in a land grant of 48,000 square miles given by England’s King Charles II to religious nonconformist William Penn. The King’s generosity is motivated in part by a desire to rid England of nonconformists.

1682 – Norfolk, Virginia is founded. The Black Death kills nearly half of the 10,000 inhabitants in Halle, Germany and wipes out much of Magdeburg, Germany.

1685 – The Palatinate-Simmern line dies out with Prince Elector Karl Ludwig II. King Louis XIV raises a claim to the inheritance on behalf of his sister-in-law Liselotte of the Palatinate, but without her consent. Liselotte is married to Louis’ brother, and Louis intends for the Palatinate to fall to France. In addition, after 87 years of religious tolerance in France, King Louis XIV, under pressure from Catholic political backers, revokes the Edict of Nantes. It is now forbidden to practice any religion except Catholicism and France forbids Huguenots to emigrate. But emigrate the do. In the years that follow, fully one half million leave for other European countries, Protestant German states, South Africa and North America. This mass exodus devastates the French maritime fleet and nearly all of the French industry, and helps fuel more military action against the German Palatinate.

1688 – The Palatine joins forces with the Holy Roman Emperor and others opposed to King Louis XIV of France in The War of the League of Augburg. The French invade the Palatinate and lay waste the countryside, destroying nearly all the castles and villages along the Rhine, including Heidelberg. Villages and farmhouses were burned and people driven from their homes in the dead of winter. Fruit trees were cut down and vineyards destroyed. Along with political and religious reasons for the French invasion, King Louis XIV was also taking economic revenge on the large number of German toll castles along the Rhine River that fed into Palatinate coffers and drained France of much needed revenue.

1693 – The French besiege Heidelberg for the second time, blowing up all fortifications and burning the town.

1699 – A German named Daniel Falckner traveled to Pennsylvania. On his return to Germany he published the book “Curieuse Nachricht von Pennsylvania, which contained glowing accounts of the new world and detailed advice on how to immigrate to Penn’s colony. This and similar books were circulated widely between 1702 and 1704.

1701 – The Charter of Privileges gives Pennsylvania the most liberal government of the English colonies in America.

1707 – Emigration picks up momentum from across Europe. After establishing themselves in the New World, religious groups would send representatives back to Europe to invite their relatives and friends to join them. In the Ittlingen area, this person may have been Martin Kendig, a Mennonite who knew Hans Herr of Ittlingen. Kendig returned to Germany sometime after 1714. The desire to leave Europe must have been overwhelming for them to endure the hardships of the journey. Many of the immigrants from the Rhineland were victims of dishonest ship companies and land agents. Many others owed their poverty to the trickery and rapacity of British promoters and ship captains. For the sake of fat commissions from the shipping merchants “soul snatchers” went through the Rhineland to persuade the inhabitants to take passage on one of their ships. On the journey down the Rhine, with its thirty to forty tollhouses, they were held up so often that it took five to six weeks to reach Rotterdam. At Rotterdam there was often a further delay of a month or more until a ship sailed for Philadelphia. By the time the ship left, many were short of money and sold themselves as indentured servants to pay for their passage. Three to five hundred passengers were packed into the small ships. Food and water were scanty and often contaminated; ventilation was bad; there was no sanitation to speak of; and rats and lice abounded. Typhus and Yellow Fever were common and took a heavy toll.

1709 – The Black Death kills 100,000 in Prussia. Famine ravages Europe as frost kills crops, fruit trees and domestic fowl as far south as the Mediterranean Coast.

1710 – Baron de Graffenreid brings 650 Swiss and German Palatines to North Carolina, where they settle New Bern on the Neuse River.

1711 – The Black Death kills 300,000 in Austria and 215,000 in Brandenburg, Germany.

1715 – King Louis XIV of France dies.

1716 – Virginia colonialists settle the Shenandoah Valley.

1720 – Disputes over religion between the ruling Catholic house and the Evangelical population lead to the transfer of the princes’ residence to Mannheim.

1720/21 Meanwhile, closer to home for the Zirkle, we have an account of the “Ittlinger Schweinekrieg” – Ittlingen Hog War – which probably added to the Zirkles’ desire to emigrate within the next four years:

“From before anyone’s memory the peasants had the right to drive their hogs into the forest to find nourishment. In the middle of the sixteenth century the right was reduced to the time of acorn and beechnut harvest, from Michaelis (29 September) to Thomasius (21 December). Later, due to harm to the forests, the number of swine per household was restricted. Then a fee for use of the forest was added. By 1720 this was three Batzens per hog. In that year suddenly the two landlord families united and demanded a higher fee than the dorfordnung (village regulations) of 1584 allowed. The villagers, under the leadership of the proprietors of the Ochsen and the Krone, two of the taverns, filed a protest with the next higher judicial authority, the council of the knights, which sat at Heilbronn, and refused to pay the levy.

The nobles then took matters into their own hands in a crafty way. Wanting to make the villagers appear in the wrong, they took advantage of another stipulation, which required everyone to be at worship on Sunday morning. Sunday, 1 November 1720, witnesses swore that the villagers had driven more hogs into the forest than was allowed. They ordered the Gemmingen gamesman to tell the swine herdsman not to let the hogs go the normal Saugrund, but to take them higher into the woods of the von Gemmingen-Gemmingen family. All the while the Ittlinger were in church, where they were expected to be. Suddenly a representative of the von Gemmingen clan called to the herdsman, “The hogs must get out of the forest, for a roe buck is there. The nobles are here and want to slay it.”

The herdsman was hardly out of the forest when he was surrounded by 20 armed men who forced him to drive all 160 hogs to the nearby town of Gemmingen, a two-hours’ walk away.

The same afternoon, as the sun shone a little, the farmers took their customary walk into the ‘Aicheln,’ the wooded area in which their hogs foraged. They noticed with alarm as they approached that no grunting was to be heard – all was silence. Gradually it dawned on them: the landlords had stolen their pigs. Some of the younger men followed the tracks to Gemmingen and returned some hours later confirming the suspicions. In the meantime the whole village was stirred up and people were standing in groups together cursing and scolding. The Schultheiss, old Caspar Caspari, summoned all the villagers to the town hall. Some wanted to take the swine back by force, but Caspri counseled seeking justice in Heilbronn. Consequently on 11 November a complaint was filed. The knights’ directorium responded three days later by fining the noblemen and ordering the immediate return of the hogs. The nobility did not respond. Soon a butcher who had been in Gemmingen brought word that cheap hogs could be bought there.
In Gemmingen gossip spread that the Ittlinger were marching to get their hogs back, but when a team of twenty men, twelve of them armed, set out to meet them, no one was to be found. Meanwhile, a second complaint was filed in Heilbronn and a third one in Wetzler, where the imperial chamber court met. The herdsmen returned to Ittlingen presently with word that one night the Schulthiess of Gemmingen had come to the nobles’ kitchen and instructed the maid to heat water since he had orders to stick some of the hogs of the Krononwirt. The Schultheiss kindly told the herdsman not to worry, that he would at least have a sausage out of it. Other news reported that the sale of hogs was brisk in Gemmingen. Individuals’ attempts to negotiate return of their animals only failed and provoked threats from the nobles, who vowed that they would murder the two innkeepers and punish anyone else who came, even if to ask pardon.
The matter worsened when, on 15 November at 9 p.m. twenty men from Gemmingen, one of them on horseback, went to Ittlingen, broke into the sheep pen and began to drive the sheep away. The noise awakened the villagers, who managed, even after the mounted man shot at them, to get the sheep back in place.

More protests to Heilbronn, another admonition to the knights to return the hogs at once and to appear at the Ross (horse) Tavern in Heilbronn on 25 November followed. A warning that the case would go as far as Vienna, if necessary, was added. The villagers sent their deputation to Heilbronn. The knights’ directorium stated the grievance against the nobility, but one blamed the other, claimed ignorance, or accused one of their number not present because he was already under arrest on another charge.

Finally one of them, Pleichard von Gemmingen zu Gemmingen, took the guilt upon himself. When the villagers were brought in, they were told that they had evaluated the hogs too highly and that one Gulden less per hog would be paid, but that restitution would be made. The villagers protested that their fellows would be angered by the reduced price, but they said they wold accept it for the sake of peace with their masters. It was finally agreed that the hogs still alive should be returned, together with those lying in salt and that 350 Gulden and eight days later another 40 Gulden should be paid for the 86 hogs which were sold or butchered. The living hogs and 327 ¾ pounds of salted meat were returned. The villagers were fined thirty Gulden because there were more hogs in the forest then regulations allowed.
After a reminder from the chamber court had to be solicited, payment was finally make on 24 December 1720. Since one of the knights was under arrest, his share was paid by sending two large containers of wine and nine loads of beets.

Further consideration by the court at Heilbronn debated additional punishment against the nobility, but since the villagers were satisfied with the restitution, nothing more was done to them. The townsfolk knew that, after all, they did have to live with their overlords; and so they, who were basically innocent in the whole proceedings, bore the loss quietly and, no doubt, added it to their list of grievances.

Henrich’s third child with Eve Euphrosina, Johann Ludwig, was born on October 9, 1705 in Ittlingen, along with his twin sister, Anna Maria. Mr. Zirkle’s book states that Henrich arrived in Philadelphia in 1725 with his family . . . “including his son Ludwig with twin sister Anna Maria. Henrich and Ludwig thus became the forerunners of the Zirkle family in America.” It is believed that Heinrich was listed on the ship Brittannia. It is not known if Henrich’s other children came to America. If they did, why didn’t Mr. Zirkle list Hans Martin as a “fore-runner” along with Henrich and Ludwig? Nor did his book list a wife for Henrich (But that is not surprising since the males were the only ones listed on many ship manifests). A search of the records in Karlsruhe does not indicate the Zirkle line continued in this region. That leads one to speculate that the entire family came to America, or some went to other parts of Europe, or, just as likely, that many of the family died prior to the emigration. Heinrich paid rent prior to 1734 on 50 acres in Franconia Township, Mongomery County, Pennsylvania. He died in 1748 in Franconia and was buried in Lutheran Church cemetery.

Johann Ludwig Zirkle was listed as a Tanner by trade and a Lutheran. In 1732 he married Eve Maria Bear (widow of Ottlinger) in Telford, Pennsylvania. She was born in Europe in 1709 and came to America in 1725 (possibly aboard same ship??). They had seven children between about 1735 and 1743. The birth places of the children indicate that the Zirkles were in Forestville, Pennsylvania from at least 1735 until 1739 and then moved to Rockingham County, Virginia. Prior to 1735, they may have lived in Telford, PA. Johannes’ dedication to the Lutheran Church was evidenced by his will, written on October 28 1746. Johannes wrote the following after his signature: Be it known that I, Lodowick Zirkle in Frankonia Township, now in my sickness, being in remembrance that I, a long time ago, bequeathed one acre of my land for the use of the Lutheran Church, to have and to hold the said described so long as the Sun and Moon are Shining. (Philadelphia Will Book H, p.209) In fulfilling the terms of this will, on July 17, 1751, Eve Maria deeded the one acre specified.,

Johann died in January, 1747 at forty-two years of age and was buried in St. Matthew Lutheran Graveyard, New Market, Virginia. Eve Maria died in 1771 in Forestville, New Market, Virginia and was buried in the Forestville Cemetery.

Johann and Eva’s fifth child, Lewis Zirkle, was born in 1740 in New Market, Virginia. He married Mary Magdalena Rosch in 1768 and put down deep roots in New Market. The book “Old Houses in Rockingham County” lists the Lewis Zirkle House, built in 1760, as:

“One of the most primitive of stone houses to be found in Rockingham county. . . It offers a great deal of interest, architecturally, in that it retains most of its original pioneer design.

The Zirkle family had its origin in Germany, coming to Pennsylvania about 1725. In 1760 Lewis Zirkle, Sr., settled on Smith’s Creek while his brother, Peter, moved on to Botetourt county. Lewis Zirkle was a tanner and a miller and pursued both operations near his home. His son, Lewis Zirkle, Jr., was also a tanner and miller and he continued his father’s operations in the same location.

This house is the first of the Zirkle houses built on Smith’s Creek. It stands near the foot of a hill on the south side of the entrance road to Endless Caverns, off Route 11, north of Harrisonburg. The house is simple but sturdily built on field stone, laid at random, built against a bank so that the first floor is partially submerged. At one time it was enlarged on the west side with a long structure which has been torn down, apparently taking with it the west end stone wall and chimney.
It contains four rooms, two on the first or ground level and two on the second, which is also on ground level in the rear. Across the front is a double porch with steps leading into each floor. There is another door on the back. On the second level there are two windows on the back and front. On the ground level the windows are narrow and horizontal with wooden bars.

It is impossible to examine the interior of this house thoroughly, but it is felt that it is original.

Close to the house stand the remains of a stone structure, built at a later date, which could have been used as a cook or wash house.
Lewis carried on a tannery and farming, was prosperous and accumulated a large estate. He died at the age of seventy years, and his body and that of his wife are buried in St. Matthews Lutheran church graveyard, he having given the ground for the first Lutheran Church at New Market, VA. At the time he died he owned fifteen hundred acres of ground, a good tannery and a fine mill property.” (Listed by U.S. Govt, WPA, Historical Am Buildings Survey, Rockingham)

Finally, The Zirkle – Roller Connection

Lewis Zirkle’s sixth child, Eve Zirkle, married Jacob Roller on March 30, 1791 in Rockingham, Virginia. Their families lived in the same area and knew each other well. She and Jacob had nine children and lived in the wilderness.

In 1790, in accordance with the new constitution put into effect the previous year, a census was begun. The first census for Virginia in 1818 listed the name of the head of the family, a numerical breakdown of free white family members by years, “all other free persons except Indians not taxed, and slaves. A census taken of the local area in 1785 by Evan Jones listed John Roler with 11 in the family, George Sircle with 11, Andrew Sircle with 5, Michael Zircle with 12 and several Roush families.

The following excerpts mentioning Eve and Jacob Roller are from records in the Court House, Scott Count, Virginia:

December 12, 1827, Jacob’s brother, Casper Roller, purchased 200 acres of land for 125 pounds from Jacob and Eve Roller. Jacob’s signature was reported to be in Dutch.

March 3, 1831, Jacob purchased land from Moses Rogers, signed by Jacob in Dutch. Witnessed by Zackariah Robinett (father of Rebecca. Rebecca’s husband, Elias Roller, is Jacob’s grandson). Could there be a connection between Moses Rogers and the Roller move to Rogersville Missouri?

1867, Elias and Elizabeth Roller in Christian CO, Missouri, appoint son, Jacob as attorney in Scott County, VA, to bargain and sell lands of Jacob Roller, Sr., Father of Elias. If Jacob had just died, this would place him at 104 years old.

The Zirkle homestead and family were in the thick of the Civil War battle for New Market, Virginia in May, 1864. Over fifty Zirkles and over eighty Rollers are listed on the Confederate roles.

At some time around the end of the Civil War, Jacob and Eve’s third child, Elias, continued the Roller lineage in Rogersville, Missouri, where another Roller cemetery was established. Two of Jacob and Eve’s children are buried in the Roller cemetery. Eve Zirkle Roller died on April 21, 1858, and Jacob died three years later. Their burial site was nearly lost to time. Instead, in September 1997, the burial place of Jacob and Eve in Scott County, Virginia was memorialized with a large monument. William O. Roller of Roanoke, Virginia dedicated the memorial with: “We present this monument to be dedicated to the glory of Almighty God and in loving memory of Jacob Roller, Sr. and wife Eve Zirkle Roller, George Roller and wife Leah Powers Roller, Andrew Barnette and wife Peggy Ann Gilliam Barnette, Andrew Bledsoe and wife Eliza Gilliam Bledsoe, an others buried here whose names are unknown. We accept this memorial monument as a sacred trust, and shall guard it reverently, in honor and in memory of those who rest here. The memory of their dedicated labor of love offered by them to make the future of their children safe and secure in this new land will always challenge us to preserve the future for those that follow us.”

One last note on the Zirkle – Roller connection. It appears from a genealogical search on the Internet that two of Jacob and Eve’s grand-daughters also married into the Zirkle family. Anna Roller was listed as the wife of Andrew Zirkle, Jr. She died in 1804 at the age of twenty five and it appears that Andrew then married Anna’s younger sister, Rachel, some time thereafter.

It is clear that the Zirkles flourished in America. On August 11, 1893 the “Big Zirkle” reunion was held near Quicksburg, Virginia – 2,500 people were said to be present.