Johann Christian Merkel (1695-1766)


Genealogical records indicate that Johann Christian Merkel was born in "Chur Pfalz, Bayern, Germany," in 1695, and died there in 1766. Of course, there technically was no Germany at the time. Nor does much turn up for Chur Pfalz, or Churpfalz. Most likely, Churpfalz is actually Kurpfalz, the German term for the County Palatine of the Rhine (the full term in German is Pfalzgrafschaft bei Rhein). The coat-of-arms of the Kurpfalz is pictured to the left.

This Kurpfalz, which existed from 1085 until 1803, was a state within the Holy Roman Empire. In 1777, a portion of the Kurpfalz was subsumed by Bavaria under the leadership of Charles Theodore, Duke of Sulzbach. The Holy Roman Empre itself was finally abolished in 1806 (thank you, Napoleon).

Bayern, or Freistaat Bayern, is what modern Germans call Bavaria.

Therefore, Johann Christian Merkel was a German-speaking resident of the County Palatine of the Rhine, part of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, this area is part of Germany; and so we'd simply refer to Johann as "German," whether or not Johann ever thought of himself as such.

And of course, his descendants who ended up in Pennsylvania were known by the misnomer "Pennsylvania Dutch" (because they spoke "Deutsch").

On a lighter note, Johann Christian Merkel had four wives. Johann and one of his wives, Catarina Brucher (1678-1749), are my ancestors.


Line of descendancy from Johann to Richard Carrol Hill:

Johann Christian Merkel > Maria Apollonia Merckel > Johann Jacob Hill > Daniel Hill > Abraham Adam Hill > James B. Hill > Grover A. "Dick" Hill > Richard Carrol Hill

Richard Carrol Hill was my maternal grandfather. This makes Johann Christian Merkel my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather.


As fascinating as is the history of the Holy Roman Empire, it pales in comparison to the variety of surname spellings adopted by Johann Merkel's children:

Maria Catarina Merckling (1715-1785)
Maria Apollonia Merckel (1718-1762)
George Merkel (1723-1779)
Anna Francina Markle (1723-1809)
Anna Maria Merklin (1725-1749)
Anna Helena Merklin (1725-1802)
Christian Merkel (1728-1814)
Casper Markle (1735-1819)
Peter Merkel (1735-1785)

Johan Jacob Hill (1687-1775)
John Jacob Hill (1711-1775)
Anna Elizabetha Mueller (1689-1776)
Johann Jacob Hill (1756-1815)
Johann Christian Merkel (1695-1766)
Maria Apollonia Merckel (1718-1762)
Catarina Brucher (1678-1749)