The Harrises of Hidlay: Part 2
It’s sometimes difficult for me to remember how I got started on some of my genealogical work from decades ago. I know that I did very little work on other branches of the family until soon after Linda and I were married in December of 1974. Then, I began delving into lines beyond that of my great great grandfather William Hagenbuch (b. 1807). Along with Julie Charleton, Ann (Harris) Brandt is the heroine of the research done on the Harris family which is rooted with Samuel Hagenbuch (b.1806).
Thank goodness I started keeping all genealogical correspondence in 1975 when I restarted my family history search. I looked back to when I first heard from Ann. She wrote to me on September 24, 1978. My gut feeling is that this introductory letter was because Linda’s mother, Ethel (Brandt) Gutshall (b. 1918), was a first cousin to Ann’s husband, Jim. My mother-in-law probably corresponded with Jim about me, a Hagenbuch, marrying Linda who is half Brandt.
Ann had been researching her Harris family history, knew that her great great grandfather was Samuel Hagenbuch (my great great great uncle), and that Hidlay Church had been a hotbed for Hagenbuchs in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Furthermore, her Harris family had inherited two of the three Hagenbuch farms near Hidlay. It was a success when we finally corresponded and shared our work with each other. I only had rudimentary knowledge of Samuel Hagenbuch at that time.
Here is an excerpt from Ann’s first letter to me from September of 1978:
You know it never sank in that Linda was married to a Hagenbuch. Sorry about that. Most of my research has been tracing back, rather than forwards to descendants. My main interest in researching the Hagenbuchs is that the farm which Henry bought in 1802 is still partially in the family—my uncle sold the house and barn a couple years ago but kept most of the land. My father lives on the farm next to it which was also owned by a Hagenbuch and bordering both farms is a third owned by still another Hagenbuch; all purchased by 1810.
The first two farms Ann writes about were originally owned by Henry (b. 1772)—my third great grandfather—and his brother Andrew (b. 1785). Henry was the father to my great great grandfather William, who left Columbia County for Montour County in 1852. The third farm “bordering both farms” was owned by Henry’s and Andrew’s uncle, John (b. 1763), who was Andreas’ (b. 1715) youngest son and who has been written about on this site. Ann’s letter continued:
Yet my folks always maintained that none of the Hagenbuchs were related. I found this hard to believe and set out to find out where they came from. Sure enough, they are brothers and uncle. What branch are you descended from?
Andrew and I have certainly come far in our Hagenbuch research. We know the relationship of the Hagenbuchs who owned what became the Harris farms. We know that the Harris family is an important part of our Hagenbuch history as they became dominant in the farming community and Hidlay Church after our Hagenbuchs moved to Montour County. And, we know that the Harris’s belief that their Columbia County Hagenbuchs were not related to other Hagenbuchs is a basic idea that even our Montour County Hagenbuchs held!
Forty days after this letter, Ann wrote to me on November 7, 1978. I assume I had written to her in the interim and this was her response:
I have xeroxed copies of my family group sheets that pertain to the Samuel Hagenbuch family. I will wait to give them to you when I see you as they are a bit bulky to mail. Also, I have called on some of Samuel’s descendants that I never to talked to previously and found a picture of him, his wife, and all of their adult children. I am having copies of this made, including one for you.
The photo Ann references—the image near the top of this article—is one of many prized photos in the Hagenbuch archives. It is certainly a photo that became the impetus for more and more research on this family, especially the Harrises.
Circling back to Part 1 about the Harrises, Frank and Susan (Stahl) Harris had nine children. From those nine children, there are at least 30 descendants of which most of those 30 had children of their own. The Harris family was (and is) important to the area of Hidlay Lutheran Church, as my Hagenbuch family was key to the area of Oak Grove Lutheran Church—the two being only about 20 miles apart. Fortunately, the Harrises created snapshots of their lives through photos and documented their relationships with Hidlay Church and the surrounding community. Frank and Susan (Stahl) Harris raised their children and then grandchildren to appreciate the importance of family, their heritage and, by evidence of service during World War II, their country.
In my opinion, being part of the Hagenbuch family deepens the Harris legacy. As Andrew and I say over and over: it’s all about connections. Two Hagenbuch brothers and their uncle leave Berks County, PA in the early 19th century and settle near the already established Hidlay Church. They have large families and become principal players in the church and that region of Columbia County.
Frank Crawford Harris (b. 1880) marries Susan Stahl (b.1880) the granddaughter of Samuel Hagenbuch (b. 1806) which begins a long line of Harrises in that area. One of Frank’s and Susan’s granddaughters, Ann (b.1935), marries James Brandt whose first cousin, Ethel Brandt, is married to Rev. Roy Gutshall Jr. Gutshall’s first charge as a Lutheran minister is at Hidlay in 1946 and the Harrises and Gutshalls become friends, staying in contact over the years. Roy’s and Ethel’s daughter, Linda, marries Mark Hagenbuch (me) in 1974 who as a budding genealogist recognizes the longstanding connection between the Harrises and Hagenbuchs. The connections continued when, about 20 years ago through a mutual acquaintance, Julie (Harris) Charleton and I began communicating.
As with other allied families still to be added to our Hagenbuch history, the Harris family information will be updated in Beechroots and the many photos that Ann left for Julie to share are being added to the Hagenbuch Archives. Andrew and I look forward to June of this year, when the Harris family will be present at the Hagenbuch reunion. Hagenbuchs, Harrises, and Hidlay—all interconnected!