Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oh, Boyer

One of my great-great-grandmothers was Sophia (Sophie) Boyer, born in 1826, perhaps in Monroe/Northampton County, and died in 1895 in Cameron County, PA.  I haven’t been able to build the story of her life, except that, like her daughter Catherine after her, she had over a dozen children. And I really liked her taste in girls’ names—Savanna, Emma, Angeline, and Carolina among them.

I knew nothing of her parents, but the hint of a spelling difference in the last name—Boier.  As I started my search, I pinballed around the internet with no focus for a few hours with a noticeable lack of results.  Since that wasn’t much fun, I paused to come up with a plan.  First, I continue broad searching, but using Mocavo instead of Google, where I was getting either too may or too few results.  I hadn’t had much success with Mocavo in the past, but I knew they were continuing to make enhancements, so I went there first and then planned to move to more specialized searches.

Fortunately, among the eight results from Mocavo was a book on archive.org called American Boyers, by Charles Boyer.  I found Sophia Doll as the daughter of Valentine Beyer and Barbara Mengel.  I knew this was my Sophia because the author indicated she married Samuel Doll. 

According to the author, Valentine was born about 1757 and had emigrated from Germany in 1772.  The author’s source for this information was David Singer, grandson of Valentine.  Singer reported that Valentine lived in Northampton County (part of which later became Monroe County, was a forge man, and died in Philadelphia.  Singer very likely knew his aunt, Sophie Boyer, but she had moved several counties away and had been dead 20 years by the time the book was published.

I found a Valentine Boyer in the 1820 and 1830 censuses in Northampton County and this is likely my 3x-great grandfather, but in 1830, he is listed in the range “Of 60 and under 70”.  If the 1757 birth is accurate, the census is wrong—or vice versa.  However, I’m not overly concerned about that because the location is consistent with other information.  I found three Valentine Boyers to consider, but only one had a location that made sense.  Unfortunately, as soon as I drop back to 1810, the distinction is more difficult, so I haven’t confirmed Valentine in earlier censuses.

I also looked for immigration records to try to verify the year Valentine arrived.  On ancestry.com, I found two Valentine Beyers, one arriving in 1774 and one in 1792.  I also found a reference to a Valentine Bayer Oath of Allegiance in 1777.  It’s possible that that all of these could be my Valentine Beyer, but there are lots of pieces missing in this puzzle.  And I’m a little skeptical of the 1757 birth year.  Not that it can’t happen, but Valentine would have been 69 when Sophie was born.  If he was, his wife Barbara, must have been much younger than him.  I hope I’ll be able to track down some more compelling evidence in the coming weeks.

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