Bryner Family History

(Bryner, Stover, Cook, Delo, Reigel)

by Bob Krepps

The Palatine Germans – The Rheinland-Pfalz (the area our family originated from) was involved in the Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648 during which the land was transformed from a prosperous region to a wilderness of uncultivated land.  After the Thirty Years War ended, a period of comparative peace followed, but it was of short duration.  The French king, Louis XIV, was opposed by all the princes of Northern Europe, who leagued themselves against him, England, Holland and the Germans standing as a solid mass against this intrigue of France.  Louis XIV, determined that, “If the soil of the Palatinate was not to furnish supplies to the French, it should be so wasted that is would at least furnish no supplies to the Germans.”  The destruction went on.  Whole villages were set on fire along with the surrounding farms and farmland within the Palatinate.  The fields were ploughed up.  The orchards were cut down or burned.  The damage done during World War II was minimal compared to this.  The Population decreased from 17 million to 4 million during this period.  The war ended with the Treaty of Rhyswick, signed in 1697.  William Penn visited this area in 1671 and in 1677 and offered the Palatine Germans a home without wars and religious persecutions in the colony of Pennsylvania.

              In 1700 Francis Pastorius published a description of Pennsylvania, which was widely circulated in Germany.  Agents for Pennsylvania and Carolina wrote pamphlets promoting their colonies and distributed them up and down the Rhine Valley.

            For the early immigrants leaving home was not easy.  Local governments often barred emigration out of German territory.  They often had to get a dozen or more permits from the state.  Many had to give up their citizenship upon leaving.  Gottlieb Mittelberger, left a good record of his emigration journey in 1750, his trip occurred almost twenty years after our ancestors traveled across the Atlantic.  He says, “The journey lasts from the beginning of May until the end of October, that is, a whole of six months, and involves such hardships that is really impossible for any description to do justice to them.”[1]  Our ancestors’ route was the same as Mittelberger’s, down the Rhine to the Dutch port of Rotterdam and from Rotterdam to the port of Philadelphia.  The small sailing ships were crowded.  As Mittelberger put it, people were packed “as closely as herring.”  Each person’s sleeping space was barely two feet by six feet.

            Mittleberger describes the journey:  “During the journey the ship is full of pitiful signs of distress – smells, fumes, horrors, vomiting, various kinds of sea sickness, fever, dysentery, headaches, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth-rot, and similar afflictions, all of them caused by the age and the highly-salted state of the food, especially of the meat, as well as by the very bad and filthy water, which bring about the miserable destruction and death of many.  Add to all that shortage of food, hunger, thirst, frost, heat, dampness, fear, misery, vexations, and lamentations as well as other troubles.  Thus, for example, there are so many lice, especially on the sick people that they have to be scraped off the bodies.  All this misery reaches its climax when in addition to everything else one must also suffer through two or three days and nights of storm, with everyone convinced that the ship with all aboard is bound to sink.  In such misery all the people on board pray and cry pitifully together.”[2]  On these early voyages nearly one out of seven people died on the trip out of Germany and across the Atlantic. 

            Once in America many who could not afford to pay for their passage would be put up for sale as indentured servants for a period of time to pay off their passage.  Usually they would bind themselves by contract to serve for three, four, five or six years.  The very young (10 – 15 year olds) would have to serve until they were twenty-one.  Orphaned children were indentured for the cost of both their parents’ fare and their own.

            Between 1727 and 1740 eighty shiploads of Palatine Germans arrived in Philadelphia; many more followed.  Benjamin Franklin estimated that at the time of the Revolutionary War, one out of every three Pennsylvania residents were of German decent.

 Johannes Cornelius Riegel (1674 – 1750) – Immigrant. Occupation:  Miller and Farmer.  Born in Germany on September 29, 1674.  Johannes came to the Colony of Pennsylvania from Germany on the ship “Pennsylvania Merchant”[3].  The ship left Rotterdam on June 24, 1733 but he probably spent between six weeks and two months traveling down the Rhine River first.  Johannes arrived at the Port of Philadelphia with his wife, Anna, four children, daughter and son-in-law on September 18, 1833.  His sons Matthias and Jorge Wilhelm came on the “Adventure” in 1732[4].  Johannes settled near present day Host, PA, and established a mill on land purchased from the Penn Family.  The mill and farm stayed in the family until 1817.  Johannes died in 1750.

Jorge Wilhelm Riegel (1706 – 1778) – Emigrated from Germany on the ship “Adventure” leaving from Rotterdam and arriving at the port of Philadelphia on September 24, 1732.[5]  He came with his brother Matthias a year before his parents (Johannes and Anna Reigel) and the rest of his family arrived.  He married Anna Marie Plattner in “Little Tulpehocken Church” in Berks County, PA.[6]  Anna also emigrated (when she was 20 years old) from Germany and arrived at the port of Philadelphia on September 21, 1731 on the ship “Britannia” with her parents Hans Jerg and Appolonia and her brothers and sisters.[7]  Jorge and Anna Marie had nine children.  Jorge married Elizabeth after Anna’s death and had two more children.  Jorge became a citizen of the colony on Sept. 15, 1765[8].  He owned a farm of 50 acres in Greenwich Township, Berks County, PA at the time of his death on September 7, 1778.[9] 

Johann George Breiner (1712 – about 1790) – Immigrant.  Later generations changed the spelling of the name to “Bryner”.  He came to the Colony of Pennsylvania from Germany on the ship “Adventure” arriving September 24, 1732 at the Port of Philadelphia[10].  The ship’s captain recorded his name ‘Georg Briner’.   Ship records do not seem to indicate that he came with any other family members.  Married to Elizabeth, they had nine children.  He died in Lynn Twp., Northampton County, PA.

Johann Michael Riegel (1746 – 1827) – The son of Jorge Wilhelm and Anna Reigel, he was born in Berks County, PA on October 28, 1746 and baptized at Christ Lutheran Church, Northkill.  He was a carpenter and a farmer.  Johann Michael Reigel was a Revolutionary War veteran and applied for a pension in 1818 in Mifflin County, PA.  He served three years from 1777 – 1779, first in Captain Benjamin Selser’s Company and then in Houseger’s German Regiment and fought in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown.  In the battle of Germantown he received a wound in the calf of the leg.[11]  He was married to Marie Elizabeth and they had ten children.  His daughter Susan married John William Bryner (father of Israel C. Bryner).

George Delo (1773 – 1848) – George Delo, the son of Michael and Mary (Keiffer) Dillow, was born in 1773.  When he was about nine years old (August 1782), George’s father was killed and his brother John captured in an Indian attack while they were clearing land in southwestern Pennsylvania.[12]  After her husband’s death, George’s mother, Mary, moved to Westmoreland County, where she had relatives.  There she married Jacob Smith.

George married Eva Catherine Kuhns sometime between June 1798 and 1799.   Eva Catherine Kuhns was born in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, in 1778.  Eva was the daughter of Bartol and Anna Christina (Heisler) Kuhns.  Her parents came from the Palatinate of Germany.  Records of old Harrold’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Westmoreland County show that she was confirmed there on April 20, 1794 at the age of sixteen.  George and Eva had ten children.

            George’s land transactions indicate that he remained in Westmoreland County until at least 1805 and that he was a distiller in 1798.  In 1806 George, Eva and their four children left for the newly opened lands of Clarion County (then it was part of Venango County).[13]  It would have been a difficult journey of at least ten days.  They probably made the journey with a number of Smiths and Keiffers (relatives) since their names are found as neighbors of George in Clarion County. 

            George built a sawmill at the mouth of Canoe Creek[14], said to be the first saw mill west of the Allegheny Mountains.  He also built a boat bottom scaffold a half mile south of the mill at a place known as Delo’s Eddy, went into the lumber business and flourished financially.[15]

             George served his country in the War of 1812, even though he was forty years old and the father of six children.  He served as a private with Dale’s 132nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Militia, a member of Captain Henry Neely’s Company.[16]  (Henry Neely and his men were from Venango, now Clarion County – George’s neighbors and relatives.)  They were sent to Lake Erie by order of General David Mead, 6th Division.  Frank S. Delo states:  “George Delo was one of the organizers of the Minute Men of Beaver Township, Clarion County, for the defense against the Indians and the English.  George and Jacob Keiffer were members of the same company.  Their first call to action came August 1813 to go to Lake Erie.  The second call was again to Lake Erie, from January 3rd to February 11th, 1814, to protect the builders of Commodore Perry’s victorious fleet.  George returned from the excursion a Sergeant.”[17]

            On February 20, 1820, Eva Delo died from Tuberculosis.  Her infant son, Henry, died about the same time and they were buried together.  George then married Eve Hummel Laughnor, the widow of Daniel Laughnor.  Daniel Laughnor was killed in 1812 at the mouth of the Kiskiminitas.  Eve was the daughter of Christopher Hummel of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.  She brought her four sons and two daughters from her first marriage with her.  George and Eve had four more children.  It was a very large household!

            George’s name is found in the Journals of the History of the Pittsburgh Synod as a member of the building committee to erect the first church in Beaver Township.  The church housed both the German Reformed and the Evangelical Lutheran congregations. 

            In 1842 George purchased 300 acres at Walnut Bend on the Allegheny River, there he planned a trading center and called it Georgetown (He was 70 years old at the time he was starting a new business venture!).[18]  His daughter Esther received 160 acres of that land when he died.

            George died on March 11, 1848, he was seventy-five.  He was buried next to his first wife Eva in Union Cemetery, Beaver Township, Clarion County.   

Sebastian Cook (1799 – 1852) – Emigrated from Germany with his wife Elizabeth (Smith) Cook and settled in Clarion County, Pennsylvania in 1830[19].  He was one of the first settlers in Paint Township.  The first coal bank in the township opened on his farm in 1938.  Sebastian and Elizabeth had four children.  His son, Sebastian, served in the 39th Regiment, Company E[20] during the Civil War and was wounded in fighting at Charles City Crossroads, captured and spent six months in Andersonville Confederate Prison[21].   His sons also served as Paint Township officials; Sebastian Cook as Constable, and George Cook as Justice of the Peace and School Director.[22]

Joseph Delo (1801 – 1887) – Joseph Delo, the son George and Eva (Kuhns) Delo, was born in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on either the 10th or 20th of November, 1801.  He lived briefly in Elk Township, Clarion County, and then moved to Beaver Township, Clarion County, where he bought and cleared land for a farm.  He married Catherine Best the daughter of William Best about 1820.  They had six children.  After Catherine’s death he married Elizabeth Wilds and had eight more children. His daughter, Catherine married Aquilla Stover.  Catherine received the family clock and ten acres of land when her father died.   Joseph Delo died in 1887 at the age of eighty-six.

Israel C. Bryner (1824 – 1914) – The son of John William and Susan (Reigel) Bryner he was born on May 10, 1824 in Center County, Pennsylvania.  In 1846 he walked with his father west to Clarion County all the way from Center County.  He married Catherine Cook; daughter of Sebastian Cook, on December 26, 1850 and soon after began working to clear the wilderness that would become the Bryner homestead in Paint Township.  Israel and Catherine had ten children.  They were members of the Lutheran Church in Shippenville.  Israel read and studied his Bible almost daily.  Catherine died on October 14, 1904, and Israel died on December 20, 1914, at the age of 90.[23] 

The following obituary appeared on the front page of the Clarion Republican newspaper on December 31, 1914, under the headline Israel C. Bryner is Called: 

            How few words are used to cover a long and active life; Born 1824; Died 1914; Ninety years of life between.  Another of the patriarchs of Clarion county has passed over “the great divide”; far past the allotted three score and ten, and his life must have been an interesting one; interesting to him and to younger generations following after.

                On May 10th, 1824, almost 91 years ago, Israel C. Bryner was born of humble parentage in Center County, Pennsylvania.  His life while young was uneventful, passed no doubt as all other young men’s lives of that time were passed until in 1848, his father following the custom and advice of his elders decided to move West into the busy iron country of the State.

                In 1846, having walked all the way from Center county, they settled near the old “Half Way House” midway between Shippenville and the famous Blacks Furnace.  Three or four years of his life were passed at that place, working around the furnace, “cobbling,” and doing anything that might turn up.

                He was married on December 26th, 1850 to Miss Catherine Cook and very soon after the marriage moved to the Bryner Homestead, the place of his death, and began clearing, that then piece of wilderness, working from early sunrise to late sunset to clear the farm and complete his home.

                It is certainly very interesting to note in Mr. Bryner’s accurate account book, the expenses of himself and family; how flour was purchased by the pound at the different “stores” and carried overland several miles to the home; how all work was done with oxen, hauling wood and leaves to the charcoal hearths to manufacture charcoal for the furnaces; what prices of the necessities of life were at that time and how they were met; how the home was finally built, and the farm cleared.

                Of this union ten children were born:  Joseph Cook Bryner, David Albert Bryner, of Shippenville; Sebastian Sylvester Bryner, of Sheffield; Israel Cyrus Bryner, of Coalinga, Cal.; Cornelius Beatty Bryner, of Rawles Springs, Miss.; Barbara; George I McClellan Bryner, of Shippenville; Bart William Bryner, of Punxsutawney; Ezra Wilson Bryner, of Shippenville; Lillian Corneila Bryner, of Union City, all of whom, excepting Barbara, who died when only eighteen months old, survive him.  He is also survived by 28 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

                Mr. Bryner united with the Lutheran church of Shippenville, in 1870, and while not a regular attendant of late years, certainly led a consistent Christian life, reading and studying his Bible almost daily.

                On October 14th, 1904, his lifelong helpmate and wife, passed to the Great Beyond and October 17th, 1904 the first burial services in the new Lutheran church at Shippenville, were held, Rev. J. H. Kellar, officiating.  For the Scriptural lesson he selected the Seventh Chapter of Revelations and the 9th and 17th verses inclusive and selected for his text, that beautiful verse of Scripture found in the 23rd Chapter of Numbers and tenth verse, which reads: “Let me die the death of the righteous and let my last end be like His.”

                On December 23rd, 1914, there being no regular Lutheran minister at the Shippenville Charge, Rev. Robinson, the newly appointed minister of the Shippenville Methodist church, was asked to conduct the services in the Lutheran church; he chose for his Scripture lesson a portion of the same books of the Bible that had been used at Mrs. Bryner’s funeral, that of Revelations 21st and 22nd Chapters, and as his text Numbers 23:10, “Let me die the death of the righteous and let my last end be like His.”  Identically the same text which was chosen as a fit one for his wife and helpmate ten years before, now selected, without any former knowledge whatsoever, as a fit one to indicate his life.

                For more than fifty years Mr. Bryner lived at the old homestead in Paint township, Clarion County, doing his allotted work up almost to the time of his death and by his method of living and dealing with all, gained a host of friends who mourn his death.

Aquilla Stover (1844 – 1912) – The son of John Phillip Stover and Sophia Shreffler, he was born on May 21, 1844.  A civil war veteran, he served in the 39th Regiment, Company E – 10th Reserve, Pennsylvania for three years, mustering in on September 1, 1861, then transferring to the 190th Regiment on May 31, 1864.[24]  He fought in the battles of Mechanicsville, Charles City Crossroads, the second battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg.[25]  Aquilla married Catherine Delo, the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Delo, on November 3, 1881 and had seven children.  His daughter, Grace Josephine Stover, married Ezra Wilson Bryner.  According to census records Aquilla Stover was a teamster working in the lumber industry.[26]   Aquilla Stover died in his sleep on August 1, 1912.[27]   His Clarion Newspaper Obituary from August 1912 reads as follows:

Aquilla Spencer Stover - On Thursday morning of last week when Mrs. Stover called her husband to prepare for his day's work, she found him just becoming cold in death.  On the evening before he was as well as usual and enjoyed the company of some of his neighbors but the next morning his friends found him lifeless.  He was one of the best known men in the community in which he lived and was a life-long resident of Shippenville and vicinity.  He was born May 21st, 1844.  He was a faithful defender of the Union during the Civil War, having served his country for almost three years, in the Tenth Pennsylvania Reserves and during the latter part of his service in the 191st Pennsylvania Regiment.

In 1881 he was married to Catherine E. Delo, by whom he is survived as also by six daughters as follows: Mrs. John Perret, Elk County; Mrs. E. W. Bryner and Mrs. Edward Swartz of Shippenville; and Margaret, Sarah and Emma at home.

The deceased is also survived by ten grandchildren and six sisters: Mrs. Shively, Shively, Pa.; Mrs. Beck, New Bethlehem, Mrs. Cook, Titusville; Mrs. McLaughlin and Mrs. Delo, Oil City.

Funeral services were held on Sunday afternoon in the Lutheran church, Rev. Chas. Lambert, the pastor of the family, officiating.  The large church was none too large for the many friends who assembled to pay the last tribute of respect, and to express sympathy to the family, who have been so suddenly robbed of their support.

Ezra Wilson Bryner (1868 – 1939) – The son of Israel C. and Catherine (Cook) Bryner he was born on April 12, 1868.  He married Nettie Mortimer, who died soon after the birth of their daughter Lucy.  He then married Grace Josephine Stover, the daughter of Aquilla and Catherine (Delo) Stover.  Ezra and Grace had six children.  Ezra was a farmer and worked in the lumber industry.  He lost his leg in an accident in the lumber industry.  On December 4, 1923 Ezra and Grace’s home burned to the ground destroying all the contents.[28]  Ezra W. Bryner died on April 10, 1939.[29]

Harold Aquilla Bryner (1904 – 1984) – Harold A. Bryner, the son of Ezra W. and Grace (Stover) Bryner, was born on September 18, 1904 in Clarion County, Pennsylvania.  He was working building a bridge in Vanport, Pennsylvania when he met his future wife, Eva Flesher.  He was boarding in Mrs. Dieca Bailey’s home next to the Flesher farm in Brighton Township.  He married Eva Engle Flesher, the daughter of William and Velva (Cooley) Flesher, on September 14, 1927 in Rochester, Pennsylvania.  Harold and Eva had six children.  Harold worked at Dando Brickyard until World War II started.  During the war he worked at Curtis-Wright factory in Beaver making airplane propellers and at Spangs making shell casings for the military.  After the war he worked at St. Joseph Mineral Corporation until he retired.  Harold Bryner died on September 30, 1984.

Bryner History Photo Album

Written by Bob Krepps  © 2001 all rights reserved.  Permission granted to copy for personal & non-commercial purposes only.

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[1] Journey to Pennsylvania, Gottlieb Mettelberger, Oscar Handlin and John Clives Editors, Harvard University Press, 1960 quoted in The German-American Heritage, Irene M. Frnack, 1989

[2] Journey to Pennsylvania, Gottlieb Mettelberger, Oscar Handlin and John Clives Editors, Harvard University Press, 1960 quoted in The German-American Heritage, Irene M. Frnack, 1989

[3] Ship Passenger List, “Pennsylvania Merchant” 1733

[4] Ship Passenger List, “Adventure” 1732

[5] Ship Passenger List, “Adventure” 1732

[6] Tupehocken Church records

[7] Ship Passenger List, “Britannia” 1731

[8] Naturalizations of Foreign Protestants in the American Colonies, page 113

[9] Berks County Probate and Tax Records

[10] Ship Passenger List, “Adventure” 1732

[11] National Archives Military & Pension Records

[12] The Delos, An American Family, Rev. Frank S. Delo, 1946

[13] Venango County opened for settlement in 1800.  The southern portion of the county became the northern half of Clarion County in 1840.  George settled there just west of Clarion.

[14] History of Clarion County, Chapter 44, A.J. Davis, Editor, 1887

[15] The Delos, An American Family, Rev. Frank S. Delo, 1946

[16] History of Clarion County, Chapter 8, A.J. Davis, Editor, 1887

[17] The Delos, An American Family, Rev. Frank S. Delo, 1946

[18] The Delos, An American Family, Rev. Frank S. Delo, 1946

[19] History of Clarion County, Chapter 62, A.J. Davis, Editor, 1887

[20] History of Clarion County, Chapter 15, A.J. Davis, Editor, 1887

[21] Andersonville Prison records

[22] History of Clarion County, Chapter 62, A.J. Davis, Editor, 1887

[23] The Clarion Republican newspaper, Thursday December 31, 1914 (Detailed Obituary of Israel C. Bryner)

[24] Military and Pension Records Aquilla Stover, National Archives

[25] History of Clarion County, Chapter 15, A.J. Davis, Editor, 1887

[26] 1900 Federal Census, Clarion County, Elk Township, Shippenville

[27] Death Certificate, Aquilla Stover

[28] Notarized statement signed by Katie E. Stover dated December 4, 1923 requesting a duplicate of her Widows Pension Certificate which was destroyed by the October 9th fire which burned E. W. Bryner’s, her son-in-law’s, house to the ground.  She stated that she was living in that house the time of the fire.

[29] Death Certificate, Ezra Wilson Bryner