Christian Hoover of Heidelberg Township, York County, Pennsylvania wrote his last will and testament on 15 February 1771. It was proven on 21 Mar 1771. He died without issue. He named his wife Mary as his sole executor, leaving her all his property, but settling £300 on the surviving children of his brothers Jacob, Ulrich and Henry Hoover. In the will he also names two sons of his sister Ann Keny: Johannes and Henry Keny.1
I’ve been curious about this Christian Hoover for some time. The fact that he names his brothers and sister is a tantalizing clue and I’m eager to connect them as a family. Unfortunately, there are several matches for these names and since he does not provide any location information for his nieces and nephews, I’m currently stumped.
Deciding to research Christian more, I went looking for his estate files. Since he left money to his brothers’ children, I’d expect an account or receipts or some proof that the heirs were paid. After contacting the York County Archives, I learned that his estate file included only an inventory. While it included a list of bonds and notes, none were for Hoovers.
Sometimes quitclaims or releases for estates are recorded in deed book registers. A check of both the grantor and grantee indices for Christian Hoover yielded only one possible match—a deed from the Christian Hoover estate to John Whelty in 1799. There were several other deeds for Christian Hoover of Heidelberg—one in 1774 and one in 1786, but I already had them and they were from a Christian Hoover who was still alive at the time each deed was written. Not a match for a man who died in 1771.
The deed to John Whelty was written 16 June 1777 and recorded 30 March 1799. In it Jacob Coghanour and Mary his wife of Frederick County, Maryland sold property in Heidelberg and Manheim townships, which had belonged to Christian Hoover, to John Whelty of Manheim Township, York County, Pennsylvania. Christian Hoover had left the land to his wife Mary in his will, but she had since died intestate and without issue. Jacob Coghanour, as Mary’s brother, inherited the land—and the £300 debt owed from the estate to the children of Christian’s brothers— so, Jacob and Mary sold the land to John Whelty “in order to dispose of the said three tracts or parcels of land and premises to the best advantage and to pay the said sum of three hundred pounds agreeable among all the legal representatives as well of the said Christian Hoover deceased…”2 John Whelty, a brother-in-law of Mary (Coghanour) Hoover, turned around and sold the land 9 May 1781 to John Spitler of Hanover Town.3 These deeds were recorded in March 1799, probably when John Conrad—the owner after Spitler—sold it to John Mumma.
While all this is useful information, it doesn’t tell me anything more about Christian’s nieces and nephews. A closer, re-examination of the will reveals that the estate was…
…subject nevertheless at her decease to the Payment of three Hundred Pounds Lawful Money of Pennsylvania to be paid by her Heirs or assigns in three equl [sic] Anual [sic] payments of one Hundred pounds each payment, the first of which payment to be made in one Year after her decease…
So, the payment of the £300 wasn’t to start until a year after Mary’s death.
The question now is: when did Mary die? She was obviously alive when Christian wrote his will in February 1771. She signed the inventory on 21 April 1771. But she was deceased by 16 June 1777 when her brother sold Christian’s land to their brother-in-law John Welty. A deed from Valentine Eyler in 1776 mentions Mary as the widow Hoover, owner of one of the properties adjoining that which he was selling.4 So, she was most likely still alive on 18 January 1776, placing her death sometime between January 1776 and June 1777
The next step is to find Mary’s estate file. She died intestate, so there won’t be a will. There should be an administration account, especially since her estate owed money to Christian’s nieces and nephews, maybe a bond… If I’m lucky there will be a list of payments made from the estate to the heirs, perhaps even receipts from those heirs. Looks like I’ll be writing the York County Archives again to see if Mary (Coghanour) Hoover’s intestate file still exists. Wish me luck!
- Christian Hoover will (1771), York County Will Book C:267-268, Pennsylvania State Archives, records group 47, roll 3466. ↩
- Jacob Coghanour & wife to John Whelty (1777), York County Deed Book 2O:88-91. ↩
- Hoover to Cocghnower (1758), Lancaster County Deed Book G:215; this document lists the heirs of Jacob Gochanour of Manheim Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as: Christian Hoover (Heidelberg) and wife Mary, John Cocghower (Strasburg) and wife Barbara, Joseph Cocghnwer (Paradise) and wife Mary, John Welty (Heidelberg) and wife Eve, Abraham Beery (Winchester) and wife Elizabeth, Abraham Welty (Manheim) and wife Magdalina, eldest son Jacob Cocghnower; John Whelty & ux to John Spitler (1781), York County Deed Book 2O:91-94. ↩
- Valentine Eyler et ux to Michael Hare (1776), York County Deed Book G:38 ↩