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Zilhaver History

by various members of  the Zilhaver family of Pennsylvania

"Zilhaver" was originally "Zellhoefer." It appears in that form on the baptism certificates of Mary and Tabitha Kuppler.

John (Johann) and Margaret (Elizabeth?) (Kretsch) Zellhoefer came to America from Bavaria in the year 1835(?) .Margaret worked in a hotel in New York City (and Erie, PA?) for a time while Johann was employed on a farm, also doing work on the Erie Canal (Erie-Pittsburg Canal) which was being constructed then. Later they settled on a farm in Cattaraugus County New York, where five of the children were born. In the spring of 1848, when Mary was 9 weeks old, the family removed to the farm in Rockdale

Township, Crawford County PA, five miles east of Cambridge Springs, making the trip in a wagon drawn by 2 oxen They were on the road a week , making stops at farmhouses along the way at night. In moving to Rockdale Township, they passed through Erie, where several of the children were baptized by the pastor (Rev Benze) of St. John's Lutheran Church

A log house and small frame barn were the only buildings on the farm, the family occupying the log house until 1857 when the present dwelling was built Five children were born in the log house This house was a story and a half high, a ladder furnishing means of access to the second story. On the first floor there was a big fireplace where the cooking was done. One small lamp, with lard or grease, furnished the light. Later homemade tallow candles replaced the lamp. These candles were made in a tin mold

holding twelve candles. Pieces of string were suspended from a stick down through the center of the molds , and the hot tallow poured around it and allowed to harden. A large spinning wheel was used to spin the wool, while a smaller one spun flax for warp. Homemade bags were woven of the wool and flax for carrying grain to the mill.

The family attended church at Drakes Mill, some of the children walking the seven miles for catechismal instruction. When they moved here from New York, there was no Lutheran Church near, so Grandfather helped to establish and build the present one. While they were constructing it, the men drank water from a pond nearby, and Johann contracted malaria and was ill a whole winter. A Christmas tree, which Margaret provided for the children attracted so much attention that people drove for miles to see it. The only decorations were apples, cookies, paper chains and candles. (Said

to be the first Christmas tree in the area.)

About a year after the new house was built , between Christmas and New Year's Day, Margaret died. Three years later Johann married Johanna Keil Woerich.

Note: .James W Zilhaver, while hunting in 1941 near Millers Station on land called at one time "Zilhaver Hill", nearly fell into a dry well. Nearby stones indicated a house foundation. Easy to believe it is the site of the house described above. In the 1970’s this was the Martin Zilhaver farm, later the Park Zilhaver farm.

Johanna Kiel Woerich came to this country from Germany with her mother, Christine Keil (Kiehl) , and two children by a former marriage. Christine Keil lived in the Zilhaver

home and died there at 85 years of age. The records of the two Woerich children, William and Minnie, are contained in the chart: Descendants of Johanna Kiel Woerich.

The chart: Descendants of Henry Spearhouse traces his descendants and the descendants of Henrietta Spearhouse and Theodore Zilhaver (parents of Charles C Zilhaver).

The chart: Descendants of John Jacob Zilhaver traces the descendants of his 12 children (10 with Margaret Kretsch and 2 with Johanna Kiel Woerich) and includes the descendants of Henrietta Spearhouse and Theodore Zilhaver (parents of Charles C Zilhaver) .

The information contained in these charts was gathered by Arlie Bernice Jones Zilhaver and Betty Zilhaver Dunn, and compiled by Betty before her death in 1982.



]ohanna Kiel Woerich was the second wife of John Jacob Zilhaver. She came to the US .with her mother, Christine Keil , and two children from a former marriage: William “Billy" and Minnie (or Linnie, probably Wilhemina).

William lived in the Zilhaver home and took the Zilhaver name. He married Helena Spearhouse, sister to Henrietta, wife of Theodore Zilhaver.



Henry Spearhouse (is the name anglicized?) was born June 25, 1825, at Hanover, Germany. He died in 1907 at Union City PA. He married in Germany in 1852, came to the US in May 1853. His wife died in 1886, struck by lightning.

Henry enlisted McKean Co Company C 211th Reg as a private on September 9, 1864, was a prisoner from November 17, 1864 to March 9, 1865. Discharged by General Order June 15, 1865. There is al so a record of 145th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Army of the Potomac. (Is this the same outfit?)

In old age he resembled in looks and mannerisms Oom Paul, the Boer statesman, and was called "Oom Paul" by intimates.

Descendants include Henrietta, who married Theodore Zilhaver and their issue duplicates material in the John Jacob Zilhaver Descendants file.



Tracy Fayette Turner was born March 31817 at Edmeston, NY, married Zillah B Lord on April 20, 1841. His descendants tie in with the Spearhouse genealogy from Selden Turner, third generation, when Seldon married Amelia Spearhouse.

Descendants of Fayette H Turner are not blood relatives.



The following information was added by Wylda Zilhaver Cole and other Zilhaver descendants at her home in Cambridge Springs on June 5, 1993 and pertains to the descendants of Frederick, fourth child of John Jacob and Margaret Kretsch Zilhaver.

(from Wylda): Alton Albert Zilhaver (ID 173) was a farmer (dairy & also had an egg route in Erie). He was an avid swimmer, a member of the Cambridge Springs Grange, and also an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at Drakes Mill PA (former Marvin's Mills, also known as Slab Town).

Christine Beckman Zilhaver (ID 175) was a cook at Culbertson Hill’s Country Club many years. She was a Honkey Tonk piano player and played mostly by ear. She had 8 lessons and was told by her father that if anyone asked her to play she should not say no. As far as we know, she never did. In her later years she played for the Sr. Citizens Kitchen Band in Cambridge Springs in the Sr. Citizens Center on Venango Avenue (former Bank building). She was active in the Cambridge Grange and the Ladies Aid Society of St. Paul's Lutheran Church at Drakes Mills.

The house where 'Munner & Fadder' raised their family was five rooms, a pantry with an adjacent woodshed. They bathed in a large washtub in the kitchen next to the old cookstove. I remember the homemade sausage hanging in the small bedroom in the winter time.

As a child I remember going to “Munner & Fadder's”, (names I gave my grandparents because I had so many grandparents and great-grandparents - I was 5th generation), often but al ways on Sunday after Sunday School and Church. We always had a good dinner and then played games like kick the can, Mother May I, etc. Then Munner would play the piano and we would sing and dance - the schottische was my favorite. Mom (Neva ID 234) tells me that I was usually dressed too warm, guess I've always been a warm person. There was a potbelly stove warmed the living room, and of course they had an Outdoor privy and next to that was an old smokehouse. It seems I remember the things that pertain to food.

I remember the old mill house and the shed next to it. Upstairs in the shed was the old cornhusker. I remember putting corn in it and turning the grinder. My grandfather, 'Fadder' as I called him, was a typical Zilhaver. If we asked for money, to borrow that is, he would al ways ask how much you wanted, so we had to say the exact amount that

we wanted.

By the time the new dwelling was built they really didn't need that much house, but it made it n ice for some of us when we got married. Wylda (ID 279) and BII Cole (ID 286) lived with 'Munner and Fadder' (Alton & Christine) for about a year to be able to save up toward the purchase of a home at 450 Beach Ave in Cambridge Springs. In 1963 an

addition was made to the house to accommodate Wylda's business as a Beautician.

In1982 Ross (ID 228) and Neva (ID 234) deeded the farm (barn and farmland) to grandson Kevin Kaley Cole (ID 313) and son Alton Clifton Zilhaver (ID 285) - now named Plateau Farms. Alton & his family now occupy the Ross & Neva family home. Kevin built his dwelling at the top of the V on the farm in 1976 and added a large addition in 1991. Ray (ID 231) and Lois (ID 237) Zilhaver lived across the road from

Alton and Christine where they raised their 6 children. When retired, Ray & Lois bought a large motor home and traveled to Florida in the winters. Just recently, in June of 1993, their son Keith ( ID 298) purchased the house and some property.

The trailer next door in which Christine Zilhaver had lived before her confinement at the Springs Manor was owned by Ray, and in 1986 Karen Cole (ID 227) purchased it. Later he sold her a bit more land so she could put up a garage in 1992.

I remember Betty Gene Zilhaver Doutt ( ID 230) and Richard Doutt (ID 236) living in the little house across from Clarence (ID 121) & Hattie (ID 124) Zilhaver, the house where Aunt Thelma Wellmon (ID 179) now lives. When Dennis (ID 291) and David (ID 292) were young they worked around the farm, and were lively young boys. Uncle Dick worked at Corry-Jamestown and Aunt Ben Always seemed to be working around food.

from notes of Marion Zilhaver Styborski .(ID 233):

Alec W Styborski (ID 239) bought a farm in Rockdale Twp which contained 100 acres, from Barton A Sanders and Florence E Sanders, laying on the Miller Hill Rd and Beckman Rd, in the year of 1951. In the year 1984 we added a room on for our Mom, Christine Zilhaver (ID 175) .Then our daughter Nancy ( ID 3(:)5) was in the process of divorce so she and her three children moved in with us in the year 1987. We then changed our garage into two bedrooms and a bathroom.

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