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Abraham Motter

by Roger Cramer

revised June 1997


I have been unable so far to find birth documents showing Abraham Motter (1828-1895) is the son of Balthaser and Catherine Ritzman Matter, but I do have overwhelming evidence that Abraham, my 2nd great-grandfather was their son.

1. There are documents showing Balthaser had "known" sons named Abraham and Leonhart. However, in all my contacts with researchers or those with documented information, there is very little mention of Abraham.

2. There are documents showing that parts of the Matter family moved "west" from

Dauphin Co., PA to Stephenson Co., IL. which is the next county to Ogle Co. where Abraham lived and died.

3. The 1860 Illinois census lists Abraham and Elizabeth Motter having a son, Nathaniel, born in Pennsylvania, and other children born in Illinois. The tombstone of Abraham Motter here (Ogle Co., IL) lists two children, Nathaniel (1849-1871) and Sarah (1852-1870). They are buried next to their parents. There is a record at St. Peters (Hoffman) Reformed Church in Lykens Township, PA of a son, Nathaniel, born to Abraham and Elizabeth Smeltzer Motter on July 11, 1849. This church is in the same area that the Balthaser and Catherine Ritzman Matter family lived.

4. I have a copy of my great grandfather Riley Motter's death certificate showing Abraham and Elizabeth Smeltzer Motter as his parents. It lists them as coming from Pennsylvania. Riley Motter and his wife are buried near Abraham Motter, his wife and two of their children in the same cemetery.

5. Leonard (Leonhart) Motter is buried in the North Grove Evangelical Cemetery about one mile from the North Grove Christian Cemetery that Abraham is buried in on the same road. Both cemeteries are located in Ogle Co., IL. The date of Leonard's birth (March 8, 1826) on his tombstone matches what is documented in Pennsylvania and there are documents showing him to be the son of Balthaser and Catherine Ritzman Matter. There is also information documented that Leonhart moved to Illinois. His wife's obituary indicates they moved to Illinois in 1859.

6. I found a May, 1895 Leaf River, IL newspaper obituary of Abraham Motter's death. It states he was born June 3, 1828 in Lykens Township, Dauphin Co., PA and died May 23, 1895 near Adeline, IL in Ogle Co. He was married to Elizabeth Smeltzer in 1848 and had eight children.

7. I found a February, 1916 Leaf River, IL newspaper obituary of Elizabeth Smeltzer Motter's death. It states that she was born in Dauphin Co. coming to Maryland Township, Illinois in 1853 with her husband, Abraham. Maryland Township is in Ogle Co. but very near Stephenson Co. She died February 25, 1916. Census records indicate that their second child, Sarah, was born in Illinois in 1852 so they may have come earlier to Illinois.

8. I located Abraham's military records from the State of Illinois. He served in Co. A of the 64th Illinois Regiment during the Civil War from December, 1863 to May, 1865. He was a prisoner of war at some time during his service. His records state that he was originally from Dauphin Co., PA. The records list his occupation as blacksmith.

9. My grandmother received a "family tree" from Guy Edwin Matter researching the Matter family back in the late 1950's. Guy Edwin Matter was considered the "family genealogist" at that time. He concluded that Abraham was the son of Balthaser Matter although he was unable to locate his birth record. The connection to himself also appears in this family tree. I found an article in the May 22, 1959 issue of the Leaf River, IL "Register" newspaper re: someone from the Pennsylvania Matter family asking for descendent information from the Abraham and Leonard Motter families. This request for information came from Guy Edwin Matter as I have copies of some of his letters. This article also has information on a 1958 Matter family reunion held in Millersburg, PA and includes information about a message from cousin President Eisenhower to the reunion committee.

10. The1850 PA census provides some other clues. There is a record of Balthaser and his wife Catherine Matter living in Lykens Twp. on page 398. There are children listed for Balthaser and Catherine as Sarah and Edward, younger siblings of Abraham and Leonard, with ages that check out from prior research. It also shows Abraham Motter living with the Thomas Battorff family on page 397. Thomas Battorff was a blacksmith and it also lists Abraham as a blacksmith so it is surmised he was learning a trade with the other family as was often done. NOTE: Military records and the 1860 Illinois census list his occupation as blacksmith. Because of closeness of census page numbers, it appears he was living only a few houses away from Balthaser and Catherine. His age is listed as 21 which would be correct if the census was taken before his birthday in June. The obituary for Abraham shows him being born in Lykens Twp.

Abraham was married by this time (m. 1848) to Elizabeth Smeltzer. There is a record of Elizabeth living with Michael Smeltzer with a child Nathaniel, age 1 on page 405 of the Mifflin Twp. census record. Her age of 22 and the baby's age check out with other research. It appears Elizabeth and baby were living with Elizabeth's father, Michael, while Abraham was learning a trade with the Batdorff family. Elizabeth's mother had recently died. We know that Nathaniel was their child because there is a record at St. Peter's Church in Pennsylvania and he is buried next to his parents here in Ogle Co., IL with a birth date of 1849 on the grave marker.

Author's note:

I have been building a large database of many names that originated or lived in Dauphin Co. and am interested in helping others. I have about

10,000 names so far. I have on my web site links to many PA genealogy sites including the Dauphin Co. site . My main family lines include

MATTER, MOTTER, LEBO, SMELTZER, RITZMAN, GEBHART, SCHOTT, ROMBERGER, SCHUPP, SHOOP, WEISS but I have information on many other family lines also.

Roger Cramer

e-mail: rogercubs@aol.com

web site: http://members.aol.com/rogercubs/index.html




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