Submitted by Neal Umstot

Johannes Adam Mueller was born May 14, 1750 in Gerhardsbrunn, Germany, a farming village not far from the French border, in the Duchy of Zweibrucken in the heart of the Rhenish Palatine. At that time the village comprised 15 houses and farms. The village existed prior to the Thirty Years War, but it was destroyed and abandoned during that war.

Adam's great grandfather, Johannes Mueller, moved to the area about 1669.

Adam's grandfather, Johannes Valentine Mueller, was a hunter in the Sickinger Forest. He and another hunter by the name of Martin Lang had a hunting cabin in the Gerhardsbrunn area. Valentine Mueller petitioned the authorities for the reorganization of Gerhardsbrunn into a farming village. The charter was issued in 1702. Valentine Mueller's signature is the only one appended to it. The charter stated that the village was for farming only and no tradesman could settle in the village. The village consisted of approximately 2200 acres and that no one farm could be less than 100 acres, allowing for a maximum of 22 farms. The village was laid out so that the houses, churches, etc., were all at the center with the farms stretching out as irregular spokes.

Valentine built his farmhouse in 1720, and it stands today with upgrades and modifications. The Muellers no longer own the house, but a few descendants still live in the village. By 1760 the village was settled and all of the land committed. Most of the villagers had become related through marriage. The limited land, large families and a system of primogeniture left little hope of farm ownership for the many young farmers.

Adam was the youngest son of Johann Michael Mueller. He had three brothers and five sisters. Adam was three years old when his father died and the farm, along with the family responsibilities, passed on to his sixteen-year-old brother Johann Valentine. When Adam became sixteen, his brother Michael, then twenty-two, left their brother's crowded house and went on to the "New Land," 1766/1767.

Michael did not leave alone, however, as he traveled to America with three brothers and a cousin of the Hoh (Hay) family. One can only imagine the excitement in the town as the young men prepared to leave. There must have been months of preparation and planning. In all likelihood, none of them had ever been farther than the town of Zweibrucken. The village people had become a tight group to the exclusion of most others, and Otto Mueller laments in his book, Gerhardsbrunn, the loss of so many young farmers.

We don't know where Michael Mueller (Miller) or the Hohs (Hay) first settled, but they all ended up in Brothers Valley, Somerset County, PA. Michael married Elizabeth. She was born in 1763 and died in 1815. We have not discovered her birth name, but suspect that she was a Schneider or Rauch. Michael died in 1813.

Later, Michael Kieffer, who was married to Adam's sister, Anna Margaretha, sold his house and land to his brother-in-law, Jacob Mueller, and left for the "New Land" with wife and nine children. The voyage was hard, and Anna Margaretha died at sea May 17, 1773, on the ship Britannia. Their twenty-one-year-old daughter, Anna O. Dilia, died a few months after landing at Baltimore. Michael Kieffer and his children may have first lived with his brothers, Abraham and Casper, in York or Berks County, Pennsylvania, but ultimately the family settled in Brothers Valley (Somerset County), Pennsylvania. Michael Kieffer died in 1805.

Adam left Gerhardsbrunn in March or April of 1773. He was twenty-three years old. He went to Frankfurt first, bought a bible and inscribed the face sheet telling of his purchase. He then seems to have lingered some, as we can only find an Adam Miller arriving in America late 1774. We don't know where Adam first settled. Some family members believe that it was Amity Township, Berks County, PA.

Adam moved to Hagerstown, MD about the time the Revolution began. The Laurel Messenger and other publications have him enlisting early in the war and serving a year. Later, he marries Roseann Kirshner, they have a baby girl, and he is then drafted into the Maryland Militia where he served nine months. During this period, Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown and the war seemed to be closing down.

We don't know what Adam did for a living in Hagerstown. The Laurel Messenger says he was in a mercantile/weaving business. He did marry well. His mother-in-law was Mary Ann Flenner Kirshner. His father-in-law was George Kirshner. Adam's wife, Roseanna, was the niece of the "founder" Johnathan Hager, and Flenners, Kirshners and Hagers were substantial property owners in Washington County, MD.

About 1785, Adam and Roseanna moved to Berlin, Somerset County (Brothers Valley). Adam was then reunited with his Gerhardsbrunn relatives and friends: the Schneiders, Hohs, Rauchs, Kieffers, and Michael's family..

Adam was quite successful. He had one of the first stores in Berlin. He owned land, as well as the "White Horse Inn." He served as Justice of the Peace for nine years, then when Somerset County was created from Bedford County, circa 1799, Adam was elected as the Somerset representative to the Pennsylvania Assembly five consecutive years. Adam retired ca. 1808 to Buffalo Mills, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. His wife Roseanna, his mother-in-law Mary Flenner Kirshner, and his three youngest children: Daniel, Josiah and Misiltha came with him. He died February 2, 1827, buried in Berlin, Somerset County. Roseanna died in 1938, and she too is buried in Berlin.

Adam's retirement home (mansion as he called it in his will), was sold by family descendants in 1942. My mother, Thelma Adelia Miller, was born in this house, 1904. Mother is now ninety-seven years old, living in a Florida nursing home. She remembers the old German letter on the wall under glass; the letter was from Adam's brother, Jacob, 1816. A translation had been made ca 1920. A cousin, Chester Devore, inherited this letter from his mother, Helen Miller Devore.

Chester visited the village in 1981. It is small and not on a map, but he was able to find the village through the German post office. He discovered that the Mayor was named Walter Mueller, a cousin. The town's eighty-seven-year-old school teacher was named Otto Mueller, a cousin. When Chester told Otto that he was descended from an Adam Mueller who left the village ca. 1770, Otto said that he was aware of him and that Adam was a "Friedensrichter" in Brothers Valley, but Otto wanted to know what happened to Adam's brother, Michael, who also went to America.

The teacher had written a book about his village; not a genealogy book, but a history book. He included geology, art, music, wars, politics, recipes, demographics, and the price of beets, potatoes, etc. from the time of Julius Caesar to 1960. Otto writes in his book that after church services, the Minister or the Town Chronicler would read letters from the "Auslanders," but after 1840 the letters stopped, and as Otto put it, "Sadly, the new American generations had lost interest in the old country."

Otto did not speak English, and Chester tells that he was not fond of Americans. Otto served on the Western Front as an enlisted man in WWI. In addition, the Americans bombed the village church in WWII, plus American soldiers looted some of the village homes. Otto, however, did warm up to Chester and gave him a book, his personal copy, autographed, with a message wishing Chester, "success in his search." Otto also gave Chester the Mueller genealogy chart listing births, deaths, weddings, locations, and occupations of Muellers from 1660 to 1969 in Germany. The book is referenced in the Mormon Church, and it is found in most German libraries. I purchased my copy from the publisher.

Chester's visit to Gerhardsbrunn created new interest in Adam Miller by family members, most notably a Robert Nicholas from Zanesville, Ohio, who through tireless investigative effort examined our family lore and was able to separate much of the fact from fancy.

Blanche Pederzilli, author of the Schneider family book, wrote to Otto Mueller and mentioned that it was hard to believe that three gravestones in Somerset County noted that the interred was born in Gerhardsbrunn. Not that the deceased was born in Germany, nor the Palatine, Pfalz or Bavaria, but in a small, insignificant farming village of 15 houses and not even on a map.

Chester said that the Gerhardsbrunn terrain was similar to that of Bedford and Somerset Counties, that Otto and other villagers resembled our grandfather, Josiah Howard Miller, and that the lifestyle and its pace was not too different from that of his own family's in western Maryland.

I had the feeling, after talking to Chester, that his visit and Otto's book opened up a magical door to a German Brigadoon, a door that was shut to our family for 250 years.

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