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John George Pontius N1-9 and His Children

 

By Lenora Niesen, Pontius Researcher

 

Note:  The information found herein is derived from the personal research of Lenora Niesen except as

otherwise cited.  It may be not be copied or distributed without written permission from the researcher.

 

Among the records of the Zion (Blue Mountain) German Reformed Church, near Strausstown, in Berks County, Pennsylvania is found the baptism of John George Pontius, son of Nicholas and wife, baptized April 8, 1770.  His baptism was sponsored by John George Schlessman and wife, and was performed by Ludwig Lupp.  Little more in the way of hard documentation has been found concerning John George Pontius.  This paper will present the results of many years of research concerning John George, elaborating on his children and grandchildren, and solving the question of John George’s final resting place.

 

Most of the information on the life of John George, up to this time, has come from the book, “Allin Families of North Devonshire with Allied Families Banbury, Detwiler, Hamm & Pontius,” written by George R. Allin, Jr. and published in 1988 by Gateway Press, Inc. of Baltimore, MD.  Mr. Allin’s mother was Jessie Cooper (Pontius) Allin, who was a great-great-granddaughter of John George.  Her grandfather, John Cooper Pontius, son of George H. Pontius, was the source of family lore concerning his grandfather, aunts and uncles. 

 

Mr. Allin’s book quotes John Cooper Pontius regarding John George and family:  “My grandfather Pontius was born, raised, educated and marryed (sic) in Germany, came to America about the year 1790, and settled in Summerset (sic) County, Penn.  Soon thereafter he moved to Wooster, Ohio, where he spent the rest of his life.  He raised a family of six children, three sons and three daughters.  My father being the oldest, his name was George.  The two younger sons were named Thomas and William – Thomas was a hatter by trade.  William was a silver smith corresponding, as I suppose, with what we call a jeweler.  The oldest daughter, Sallie, married Thomas Clear [Clay?], a cooper, lived and raised a family in Knoxville, Jefferson County, Ohio.  The next daughter named Betsey marryed (sic) a Mr. Sheby [or Streby].  They raised a son named Michael, who was educated for (sic) a Presbyterian minister.  The younger one named Lyda [or Nancy?] married Mr. Nochtried.  These were all hatters and carried on their trade as hatters in Wooster, Ohio.  They were all prominent, well to do people.”  The research presented in this document dovetails with and adds to Mr. Allin's research.

 

Little is known of John George’s wife or wives.  A deed recorded in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in September 1800, wherein George Pontius & wife and Johannes Hubler & wife, all of Toboyne Township, sold property in Cumberland County to Frederick Briner, names George's wife as Betsey and her signing mark appears as Elizabeth Pontius.  Census enumerations of 1830 and prior indicate a female of age to be his wife in the household, and the household of John George Pontius has not been found in the 1840 census.  No marriage record, death record nor grave has been found for Elizabeth Pontius to date.  A later deed, in 1842, was recorded in Williams County, Ohio wherein George Puntches and wife Susanna sold property in Williams County to Jonas Nacktrieb (sic) and J.P. Coulter.  This could be Susanna Overly, who married a George Punches in Wayne County, Ohio on 12 March 1834.  (The younger George H. Pontius was still married to wife Hannah until her death in 1848, so this marriage in Wayne County was most probably that of John George - a conclusion substantiated by the aforementioned deed of property to his son-in-law Jonas Nachtrieb.)

 

The following list names John George’s known children.  Alternate spellings of the Pontius name are used where they are known to exist.

 

Elizabeth (Betsey) Pontius, born about 1794 in Pennsylvania

Married Christopher Harper Strieby on 15 Aug 1813 in Columbiana County, Ohio

George H. Pontious, born 12 December 1795 in Pennsylvania

Married Hannah Call on 3 April 1817 in Jefferson County, Ohio

Sarah (Sallie) Pontius, born about 1801 in Pennsylvania

Married Thomas Clear

Thomas Puntches, born 01 January 1801 in Pennsylvania

Married Elizabeth (last name unknown)

William Punches, born between 1810-1812 in Ohio

Married Calesta Sykes on 13 March 1842 in Wayne County, Ohio

Nancy Punches, born about 1818 in Ohio

Married Jonas Naughtreab (Nachtrieb) about 1833

 

There may have been two other daughters, Lydia Ann and Mary (Polly).  John Cooper Pontius remembered a "younger" sister as "Lyda? [or Nancy?]." it is known that there was indeed a Nancy who married Jonas Nachtrieb; however, there was a certain Lydia Ann Pontius who married Daniel Laudigh in Wayne County, Ohio on 7 Jan 1841 (while John George and some family members lived there), and one wonders whether this could have been the source of the memory of "Lyda" for Mr. Pontius.  The Laudighs have not been found in census records at this time.  Mary (Polly) Pontius, who married Abraham Fox in Columbiana County, Ohio, is discussed later in this document.

 

A census enumeration for 1800 is found for George Pontius in Toboyne Township, Crawford (later Cumberland) County, Pennsylvania; this is believed to be John George.  A deed was filed in Cumberland County in spring of 1795, showing John and Susanna Hubler (Hoobler) purchasing 120 acres of land from George Pontius for 1,200 pounds (Cumberland Co. Deed Book O, page 6).  The land was located south of the settlement of Blain.  This couple purchased land in 1812 in Jefferson County, Ohio and moved there.  The pattern and timeframe of this migration coincide with that of John George Pontius and with the birth of son William Pontius in Ohio.

 

The 1820 census finds the “George Punshes, Sr.” family in Knox Township, Jefferson County, Ohio.  In 1830, the “George Punches” household is enumerated in New Somerset Township, Jefferson County.  He is not found in 1840’s census. 

 

The records of the Pontius Family Association have placed the death of John George in Jefferson County, Ohio around 1840, most likely due to an absence of information to the contrary.  John Cooper Pontius stated that John George moved to Wooster, Ohio (Wayne County).  Both John George's son Thomas and the family of his daughter Elizabeth Strieby are both found in Wooster as early as 1823, and in the 1840 census the Strieby and Nachtrieb families were apparently next door neighbors in Wooster.  Because of this, the finding of a “George Punches,” age 81 (born Pennsylvania), in Wooster during the 1850 census was quite suspicious, except that he was enumerated with the family of Abraham (age 60) and Mary A. Fox (age 57, born Pennsylvania), and a relationship between them and John George was unknown. 

 

Ohio marriage records show a union between Polly Pontius and Abraham Fox in Columbiana County on 11 January 1810.  These records also list the marriage of Elizabeth Pontious to Christopher H. Strieby on 15 August 1815 in Columbiana County.  Columbiana County was formed from Jefferson County townships, and the John George Pontius family lived very near the border between the two counties.  The 1800 census record of George Pontius in Toboyne Township, Crawford (later Cumberland) County, Pennsylvania shows two females under the age of 10, and one of them could have been this Mary A. (or Polly, which is a nickname for Mary).  Upon the death of Mary/Polly's husband, Abraham Fox, "Mrs. Nachtrieb" bought clothing items to assist her in preparing for the funeral.  It is reasonable to suspect that Mary A./Polly Pontius Fox may be the eldest daughter of John George.  The father/daughter relationship between Mary A. Fox and John George Pontius remains circumstantial, but the fact that John George was still living at that time is further confirmed by the 1860 census.

 

In 1860, the family of Thomas Punges is enumerated in Center Township, Williams County, Ohio.  The family listing includes Thomas (59), Elizabeth (48), John (24), William (20), Lovinia (16) Ellen (6) and George, age 95.  We are satisfied that this head of household is indeed Thomas Pontius, the son of John George, due to several factors:

 

(1)   Thomas Punchus is listed as a resident of Wooster in the 1823 Wayne County, Ohio census.  The Strieby family is also listed in that enumeration.

(2)   In 1837, “Thomas L. Puntches of Wayne County” registered a land patent in Williams County and he is enumerated there in 1840 and in every subsequent census year until his death.  The children listed in the 1860 census record align with his children in other census years.

(3)   In the 1870 census, William Punghes, age 59, is included in the household of Jonas and Nancy Nachtrieb in Wooster, Ohio, and he is said to be a “jeweler.”  In the 1880 census, Thomas’ daughter Lovinia Yates’ household in Williams County, Ohio includes William Punches,, age 68, a “retired jeweler,” whose relationship to her is listed as “uncle.”

 

Conclusion:  If the Thomas Punches in Williams County is the brother of William and son of John George, then the person enumerated with Thomas in 1860 as “George Punges,” age 95, born in Pennsylvania, must be John George himself. 

 

John George Pontius’ final resting place is found in the Brown Cemetery, Williams County, Ohio.  Thomas and wife must not have known his actual age, for records show that his grave stone says simply, “George Punches, age about 96.”  The other side of the stone lists Thomas and Elizabeth Punches.  Based upon this and the 1860 census listing, it is supposed that he died about 1861, having lived a good long life and leaving many descendants.

 

 

 

The Known Children of John George Pontius

 

Elizabeth, or “Betsey” Punghes

 

Elizabeth Pontius was born about 1794 according to the 1850 census, but the Strieby family genealogy page (www.striebygenealogy.com) states her birth year as 1799.  She was born in Pennsylvania, and one would presume her to have been born in Cumberland County based on John George’s census and land records.  John Cooper Pontius called her “Betsey.”  Elizabeth married Christopher Harper Strieby, who was a clock and watch maker, on 15 August 1813 in Columbiana County, Ohio.  By 1823, they were listed as residents of Wooster, Ohio (Wayne County).  The Strieby Genealogy page says this:

 

Christopher Harper Strieby, son of Michael and Maria Magdalena (Klinkhart) Strieby, married Elizabeth Punghes. He farmed and learned the trade as clockmaker from his father. He worked in Wooster, Ohio, and later had his own shop at Mount Vernon, Ohio. He moved with his son to Syracuse, New York. He built a grandfather clock into the wall of the house in Syracuse, New York between 1853 and 1858. It had no case, only the face and pendulum were visible through glass. This clock, in the possession of his grandson, Maurice E Strieby in 1967, has been mounted in an "1850 Period" case. The face of the clock (silver plated) shows the name C. H. Strieby Syracuse, N. Y." but no date. It also has the word "Regulator" above his name. This means it has a mercury weighted pendulum for temperature compensation.

 

Elizabeth and Christopher Strieby had one son, Michael Epaphroditus Strieby, who was born 26 September 1815 in Columbiana County, Ohio.  Michael attended Oberlin Theological Seminary and received his D.D. from Dartmouth College.  He was a minister of the Free Presbyterian Church and was Corresponding Secretary for the American Missionary Association at Newark, NJ.  He married Ellen Frances Griswold and they had a number of children.

 

Christopher Strieby died 28 June 1872 in Maplewood, NJ, and Elizabeth died on 5 March 1875.  She is buried in Fairmont Cemetery, Newark, NJ.

 

 

George H. Pontious

 

George H. Pontius (spelled Pontious later) was born in Pennsylvania on 12 December 1795.  He moved with his parents and siblings to Jefferson County, Ohio sometime around 1810-1812 and there married Hannah Call on 03 April 1817. 

 

George and Hannah had the following children:

 

Harriet 22 Dec 1817 married Thomas Jefferson Campbell
Elizabeth 08 May 1819  
Alexander 18 Jan 1821 married Susan (last name unknown)
Theodore 08 Dec 1822  married Elizabeth Douglas
Temperance 20 Sep 1825  
James  28 Oct 1827  
Catharine ______ 1828  
George W. 05 Jan 1829  
John Cooper 27 Jan 1830 married Rebecca Ann Derumple Smith
Thomas 15 Mar 1832    
William W. 15 Mar 1834 married (1) Caroline Howard (2) Mrs. Sarah Howard
Albert  26 Dec 1836  married Lyda Jane Rupp
David   21 Nov 1840  

 

George farmed in Jefferson County, being found in Saline Township in 1840 and Brush Creek Township in 1850.  In September 1840 he was a charter member of the newly founded New Somerset Christian Church in New Somerset, Ohio (Jefferson County).   George’s wife Hannah died in Jefferson County on 20 November 1848 at the age of 51 years, 8 months and 5 days.  She is buried in the Brush Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, also known as the Dennis Cemetery, near the border between Jefferson and Carroll Counties.

 

George Pontius never remarried.  He moved, along with some of his children, to Scott County, Illinois, and he died there on 18 July 1887.  He is buried in Bower Cemetery, along with his son William’s family.

 

 

Sarah, or “Sallie” Pontius

 

Sarah Pontius was born about 1801 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.  John Cooper Pontius calls her Sallie, a nickname for Sarah.  She married Thomas Clear, a cooper by trade, about 1827 and they settled in Knoxville, Jefferson County, Ohio (see 1850 census).  The Clears had the following known children:

 

Elizabeth __ Dec 1825

married Robert Brady

Sarah  about 1828  
Harriet about 1830  married Cletus Bower?
Letitia about 1835  
William L. __ June 1838  
Mary Ellen about 1842 married Richard Chambers
Ashley or Ashel about 1852 (male child)

 

Thomas Clear died in 1868 and Sarah died in 1856.  Both are buried in the Knoxville United Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Knoxville, Ohio (Jefferson County), along with their daughter, Mary, and her husband Richard Chambers.

 

 

Thomas Puntches

 

Thomas Pontius (later spelled Punches or Puntches) was born on 01 January 1801 in Pennsylvania.  In the county census of June 1823, Thomas is listed as a resident of Wayne County, Ohio.  He married a woman named Elizabeth sometime around 1831.  (Her maiden name may have been O'Hara, as there is a Susan O'Hara, born 1779, listed on the common gravestone of Thomas, Elizabeth, and George Punches.)  In March 1837, Thomas registered a land patent in Williams County, Ohio, and by 1840 his family is listed in Center Township in that county. 

 

Although there may have been more, Thomas and Elizabeth had the following known children:

 

Newton Q. about 1832 settled in Grant County, Minnesota, married Phebe Anna Burns Fowler, had children
John N. ______1834, died 26 Jan 1904  married Adeline Osmun, no known children
William  about 1839 married Nellie Strong, had children
Lovinia about 1843 married Frank B. Yates, had children
Ellen __ Feb 1854, died 30 Apr 1894    unmarried, died of consumption

            

Daughter Lovinia married Frank B. Yates in 1864 and he died 12 Dec 1871.  William Punches, her uncle, was living with Lovinia and sons when he died in 1880, and later her sister Ellen moved to New York, where Lovinia cared for her until she died.  One of Lovinia’s sons was Cullen Yates, who became an American Impressionist artist of some note. 

 

The following excerpt is from the Florence Griswold Museum website, http://www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org/learning/foxchase/html/cullen_yates.php:

 

On a lark, Cullen Yates (originally named Owen), decided not to travel to Europe during the summer of 1900 but instead, joined a band of artist friends who were heading up to Connecticut to stay at the Griswold boardinghouse. Not an intimate friend of Henry Ward Ranger, but more of a friend of a friend, Yates nevertheless became an unsuspecting pioneer of the Lyme Art Colony. A handsome man with a full reddish beard, Cullen found himself immortalized in The Fox Chase, running with the others despite his formal gray suit, crisp white collar and tie. He returned to Old Lyme the following summer.

 

Yates discovered his interest in art as a boy in Ohio. He set his sights on studying art in New York and was accepted into the National Academy of Design by age 25. A few years later, he and his mother rented a little house near the art colony at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. He studied with American Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase while his mother served two meals a day to the students in the summer colony — a foreshadowing of the mothering of Miss Florence who he will meet six years later. Between his time at Shinnecock and Old Lyme, however, he traveled to Europe and studied art literally day and night. He had classes at the Académie Julian during the day, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the afternoons, and the Academie Colorossi in the evening! He then returned to Ohio to teach. Determined to make his mark in the art world, he moved to New York where his active participation in art shows and memberships in art clubs put him in contact with the influencial artists who he would follow to Old Lyme.

 

John Cooper Pontius states that Thomas Pontius was a hatter by trade.  It is possible that he was trained in this trade in his early years, but from 1840 on he appears to have farmed.  His daughter Ellen’s obituary says that she engaged in the millinery business in Montpelier for a time, and it is possible that she learned the trade from her father.

 

Thomas' son, William Punches, had children and went on to live in St. Louis, MO.  Newton Q. Punches married and settled in Grant County, Minnesota, having offspring there.  Through these two sons there may still be descendants of Thomas who carry the Punches surname; research is ongoing.

 

Thomas L. Punches died on 4 January 1872, and his wife Elizabeth died 30 August 1880.  They are buried together in the Brown Cemetery, Center Township, Williams County, Ohio.

 

 

William Puntches

 

William Pontius (later spelled Puntches, Punghes and Punches) was born in Ohio about 1811, judging from census records.  From John Cooper Pontius we know that William was a jeweler, and census records of 1870 and 1880 show this to be true.  Those census records show him to be retired.

 

In the 1850 census, William Punghes, age 39, a watchmaker, is shown with a wife, Calista, age 36, living in the town of Ashtabula, Ohio.   They are enumerated with the family of Frederick Sikes, age 43, born in Connecticut, and Calista is also said to be born in Connecticut.  Wayne County, Ohio records include a marriage between William Punches and Calesta Sykes on 13 March 1842. 

 

The website, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~silversmiths/makers/OhioMakers.htm, lists W. Punghes as a jeweler, clockmaker, watchmaker and silversmith in Bryan (Williams County, Ohio between 1859-1864 and in Ashtabula, Ohio in 1868.  The owner of this website, William Voss, states regarding the researcher's inquiry:  "The information on my Ohio list is transcribed from hand-written index cards compiled by Elizabeth Beckman, who wrote the book on Cincinnati silversmiths. They were basically working notes assembled during her travels about the state."

 

In 1860, William and Calista Punghes are enumerated, without children, with John and Julia Eggleston in Guilford Township, Medina County, Ohio.  William was 49 and no occupation was listed; Calista was 46.  Julia was born in Connecticut and may be Calista's sister.  He was living with the Jonas Nachtrieb family in Wooster when the 1870 census was taken.  He died on 23 July 1880 at the home of his niece Lovinia Yates, and he is buried in Fountain Grove Cemetery, Pulaski Township, Williams County, Ohio.  His heir and executor was Lovinia Yates (will filed in box 2363, Williams County, Ohio), causing one to wonder whether this inheritance enabled his nephew, Cullen Yates, to have art lessons in New York.

 

 

Nancy Punches

 

Nancy Pontius was born September 12, 1808 in Jefferson County, Ohio.  John Cooper Pontius remembered the younger daughter as either Lyda or Nancy, but documents consistently refer to this individual as Nancy.  Nancy married Jonas Nachtrieb, a hatter, on the anniversary of her birth, September 12, 1833, in Wooster, Ohio and the couple spent their lives there.  They were apparently successful business people, and the 1880 census shows that Jonas was a Hat & Fur Dealer.

 

Although census records indicate there may have been others, Nancy and Jonas Nachtrieb had the following known children:

 

Michael S. about 1836    
Thomas bet. 1837-1840, died 1 Feb 1841  
Mary Jane  about 1840  
Ellen D. about 1842  
Emma F. about 1845  married Philip L. Horn
Joshua F.  about 1847, died 29 Aug 1890 unmarried, died age 43 of lung disease
Anna about 1852 married Constant Lake

 

The 1850 census lists son Michael, age 24, as a “portrait painter.”  Michael Strieby Nachtrieb was, in fact, an artist of some renown, specializing in portraits and still life paintings.  His portrait of Robert E. Lee from 1870 is owned by the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation and hangs in Stratford Hall Plantation.

 

Nancy Pontius Nachtrieb died on 26 May 1886 in Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio, at the home of her daughter, Emma F. Horn.  Her husband, Jonas Nachtrieb, preceded her in death, having passed away on 01 Mar 1880.

 

 

 

 Summary

 

The researcher has presented a new picture of John George Pontius, showing that he died in Williams County about 1861, and not twenty years earlier as previously supposed.  Further, compelling evidence has been presented to strongly suggest the existence of an elder daughter, Mary A. Fox, unknown until now, and to raise the question of a possible additional younger daughter. 

 

As with all genealogical works, this one is not complete.  Much more can be learned about the descendents of John George.  One would hope to determine his wife's maiden name and to resolve more concretely the question of Mary A. Fox’s relationship to John George.  It is hoped that living descendants of John George Pontius will be found.

 

If the reader has questions or comments about the conclusions drawn herein, and especially if one is a descendant of any of the persons mentioned, please contact the researcher at webgenie@pontiusgenealogy.com.