A Line of the Pirkle Family in America

By William Loy Pirkle 

About this site - This site traces a line of the Pirkle family from its origins in Germany to our generation's grandchildren. It traces the male line, showing wives and brothers & sisters but generally only their names and birthdays are shown except when they are in our direct line. However, if the name is preceded by an asterisk (*) and is in the color that indicates a hyperlink (light blue in my system), then clicking it will take you to a page on the Internet where that person (male or female) appears in someone else's trace of their line. The format and information shown on those sites will, of course, differ from this site's format and content. Hyperlinked names in our direct line will not be preceded by an asterisk and will take you to a page at this site that contains all the pertinent information known about that person, including  photographs, if available. 

William L. Pirkle, September, 2003

Note - There are many different spellings of people in what I will call the "Pirkle family". These include Pirkle, Pirtle, Pirkel, Purtle, Pyrtle, Birkle, Berkley, to mention a few. This site traces the linage from an immigrant named Jacob Birkle who came to America in 1733 and found to be the first of this "Pirkle family" in America. The reasons for the different spellings are that some people could not write their name, sometimes the clerk Anglicized the name from its German pronunciation, and sometimes, perhaps people assumed a slightly different name to go with their new life. But birth dates and other information makes it possible to match them up.

     At a catholic baptism, if two names were used for the child, the first given name was a spiritual or a saint's name. The second given name was the secular name by which the child was known. The spiritual name was often given to all children of the same sex in a family. Thus boys would be something like Johannes Heinrich, Johannes Gottfried, etc. and girls might be Maria Elizabeth, Anna Sophia, etc. but would be known as Heinrich, Gottfried, Elizabeth, and Sophia, respectively.

     I wish to thank James Riley Pirtle whose paper at http://home.att.net/~jpirtle0/hardeman.html
offered much data for this site. I also wish to thank Professor John A. Cagle and Virginia Smith Pirkle for their book ,"The Pirkles and Their Descendants in The U.S.A.". I also  wish to thank The Church of Latter Day Saints for the use of their Family Research Center and Internet resources. Finally, I wish to thank my family for names, dates, and photos.

The Story of the Pirkles

     On September 29, 1733, the ship Mary arrived in Philadelphia at Fishbourne's wharf below Walnut Street and an excited, though exhausted Jacob Birkle de-boarded with his wife Dorothea, and their three children, Catherina, 6, Barbara, 3, and  Hans Jacob, nine months, and all their worldly possessions to start a new life in America. He proceeded to the Courthouse on Second street to take the "Oaths of Allegiance to the King", thus ending a daring trip of many difficult months. (Click here to see the ship's passenger list, hit BACK to return here). Their trip began in the forested hills of Baden, Germany in a village then called Hinterstrass. The official records of Hinterstrass, now Hinterzarten, show Jacob to be the third of 12 children of Michael Birkle and Maria Willmann. Click here to see the village where they lived - Hinterzarten.

Here is a summary of our German linage 

? Birkle (b. circa 1557 - d. ?) (Our Ancestor's Great - Great - Great - Grandfather)
        Married - wife unknown
                Adam (b. circa 1577)
                     Married Elsa Zipfel in 1597
                Hans (b. circa 1580) (Our Ancestor's Great - Great - Grandfather)
                     Married ? Hecht circa 1600
                            Mathis (b. circa 1604 - d. ?) (Our Ancestor's Great - Grandfather)
                                 Married - wife unknown in circa 1625

                                        Jacob (b. circa 1630 - d. 1699) (Our Ancestor's Grandfather)
                                            Married Maria Imberi (b. 1645 - d. 06/14/1716)    (See her death record here)
                                                    Gallus (b. 10/13/1678)
                                                    Michael (b. 1679, d. 05/12/1753) (death record) (Our Ancestor's Father)
Married - Maria Willmann (b. ?, d. 11/16/1733) on 11/22/1699 

                                                                Franciska Birkle, christened March 20, 1703
                                                                Christina Birkle, christened December 13, 1704
                                                                Jacob Birkle, christened June 27, 1706 (Our Immigrant Ancestor)
                                                               Michel Birkle, christened September 28, 1707
                                                                Joseph Birkle, christened March 3, 1710
                                                                Magdalena Birkle, christened July 21, 1712
                                                                Mathias Birkle, christened November 15, 1714
                                                                Maria Birkle, christened August 21, 1716
                                                                Barbara Birkle, christened December 19, 1718
                                                                Catharina Birkle, christened November 18, 1720
                                                                Gertrud Birkle, christened February 8, 1723
                                                                Agatha Birkle, christened February 3, 1724

The first Birkle in America starts a new life

     After swearing an oath of allegiance, Jacob set off from Philadelphia with his family to the wilderness of Pennsylvania, where Germans were settling and where farmland could be had. Jacob Birkle's new home was in the backwoods of Lancaster County where there  were already German speaking people settled as farmers. The Lancaster County tax records show that he and his  family lived in Derry Township, where his wife Dorothea gave birth to Jacob's fourth child and second son, and the first Birkle born in America, John Jacob Birkle (b. January 7, 1734). The next son, Micheal Leonhardt Birkle (b. August 20, 1736), are significant in our story because they migrated to the Carolinas where the Pirkles shown later in this lineage originate. (This website will trace these Pirkles down to our grandchildren.). They laater had three more children (see below).

     Jacob Birkle was still farming his 50 acres in Derry Township as late as 1773 according to Lancaster County tax records, but around 1760, his sons John Jacob Pirkle (note the name change) and Micheal Leonhardt Purtle (note the name change) had packed their wagons and joined a caravan headed for Carolinas, following their father's adventurous spirit. Jacob's oldest son, Hans Jacob Birkle, nine months old on the ship Mary, is shown in records as John Purtle (John being Hans in German) who served as a private in the Fifth Pennsylvania Regiment during the Revolutionary War. He fought in the battle of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, where he was wounded and captured by the British.

Here is a summary of the first Birkle in America and his family.

Jacob Birkle (c June 27, 1706, d. sometime after 1773) immigrates to America in 1733 on the Mary.
    Married Dorothea ? (b. circa 1708) married John circa 1724
            Christina, b. circa 1727
            Barbara, b. circa 1730
            Hans Jacob {Hans on the ship's list), (1/7/1733--1811)  Fought in Revolutionary War as John Purtle
            John Jacob Birkle b. 01/01/1734 the first Pirkle born in America, migrated to the Carolinas, circa 1760   
            Micheal Leonhardt, b. 8/20/1736--1/7/1820  migrated to the Carolinas with his brother (above), circa 1760
            Anna Eva, born in America May 8, 1739
            Maria Dorothea, born in America November 27, 1741
            Elizabeth, born in America December 24, 1743

     The interested reader might wonder why Jacob, age 27, would leave his Germen home and go to America. He was the third child but first son of his father Micheal. Given the value placed on the first born male, his birth must have been a joyous event, especially after two girls. As the valued first son, and having two older sisters to spoil him, his early life must have been pleasurable, and as the oldest son, he would inherit the family estates one day.  It is shown above that his mother, Maria Willmann died on November 16, 1733, and since he is estimated to have left in the spring of 1733, it was merely months before her death that he left his  home in Germany. There would have been his father, mother and eleven brothers and sisters, and his wife and three children in the household at the time he departed.

     The Birkles were Catholic yet he joined the Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania indicating the possibility of a religious riff in the family or religious persecution in the village. There were no records in the church of Jacob's marriage or the christening of his three children, Hans, Catherina, and Barbara. This is strange since the christenings of him and all his siblings are there as were records on deaths and marriages of other members of his immediate family.

     The ship's list shows that, besides his family, there were three other Berkleys who boarded the ship AND who signed the ship's register at the same time, indicating that they were in line together, and therefore traveling together. There are Hans Jacob Berkley, a man (on the adult list), Anna Barbara Berkley, a  woman (on the adult list), Maria Magdalene Berkley, age 16. We can suppose that that these are cousins who wanted to join in the great adventure and Hans Jacob and Anna Barbara were probably married. The Church books at Hinterzarten are replete with with records on Birkles. It would seem likely that the first Birkle's plans would have stimulated great interest in the village especially among the first cousins who were roughly the same age. So the matter is left to our speculation. We, his descendants, can each imagine a scenario that satisfies our individual curiosities.

      Since the 9 month old Hans Jacob on the ships list is the son of Jacob and Dorothea, we might assume the following: The baby would have been born in late December or early January. It would have been cold in Hinterzarten at that time and that and travel with a new born would have been very difficult. The wise thing to do would be to wait until the spring to set off on this adventure. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the trip would have begun in April or May at the earliest. The trip from Hinterzarten would have taken at least a month, they would have to wait for a ship with space available, and the trip itself would take from four to six weeks. They would have traveled to the town of Freiburg, 18 miles Northeast, then 14 miles to the Rhine river valley (the Rhine river is the border between Germany and France), then by foot or boat down the Rhine river (Northeast) to Rotterdam, a large commercial center where ships regularly departed for America and other countries. They arrived in America on September 29, 1733.

     To put this genealogy in its proper light, Jacob and Maria Imberi, shown above, would be our generation's great, great, great, great, great, great, great Grandmother and Grandfather.

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