There are at least five constantly recurring errors in my branch of the Light family, that is, the New Richmond, Ohio, family. I would like to call attention to each of these, present evidence to settle the issues and bury the mistakes.
Before looking at these mistakes, we should distinguish the Caernarvon Twp., Lancaster Co PA-New Richmond OH Light family from another Light family living at the same time in Lebanon Twp., Lancaster Co, later Lebanon Co PA. This other family was the object of Moses Light’s 1896 book The Light Family in America and the recent publication of an updated manuscript by the late Rev. J. G. Francis, History and Genealogy of Early Pioneer Families of Lebanon Co PA.
These are the errors commonly found or repeated in the New Richmond branch of the Light family.
1) That the wife of our John Light (1724-1822) was Marget.
2) That our family is closely connected or even the same as the Lebanon Co PA Light family. Confusion exists over which Jacob Light adopted two sons of his brother John Light, over the parentage of the various John and Jacob Lights, and over which John or Jacob was in which PA county at what time.
3) That Catherine Britzius was the wife of either John Light (1724-1822) or his son Jacob Light (1757-1831).
4) That a Sir Henry Light of German origin was the immigrant ancestor of this whole family.
5) That Mrs Susannah Ashburn was a sister of Jacob Light.
I will discuss these issues one by one.
1) According to Mary Kemmerle’s 1986 book Jacob Light of Caernarvon Township and Some of His Descendants, p 7, the identification of Marget Light (see a photo of her headstone in SearchLight, IV-4, p 2) as the wife of our John Light was made in 1930 by the above mentioned Rev. J. G. Francis in his “Light Family History.” Mary writes: “Rev. Francis, while writing the history, investigated other Light families and apparently was trying to establish whether there was any relationship between the families. In his book (p. 508), he included some information which he attributed to the Caernarvon Twp. family of [our] history. Although no source or proof was given, this information has been generally accepted as fact by others researching this family. This information has now been proven incorrect. Rev. Francis stated that John lived in the vicinity of Valley Forge and helped gather supplies for the Army during their encampment there. He went on to say that John’s wife, Marget, died while they were living there, and that she was buried at the Coventry Brethren Church cemetery. Marget Light’s head-stone, still in good condition in 1983, shows that she died 4 May 1787. A recently discovered deed, dated 1773, shows that John’s wife was Catharine—not Marget. A John Light, born in New York State and later a resident of Lancaster Co PA was very active in military service during the Revolution, and was probably the one noted at Valley Forge.” See #3 below for more on this NY John Light.
No one has yet determined where this Marget Light fits into any Light family.
The reference for the deed mentioned by Mrs Kemmerle is Chester Co PA deeds, Vol B-2, p 308, Apr 28 1773, when John and Catherine sold land. They went immediately to Berkeley Co VA and purchased land there on Jun 30 of the same year. See Mrs Kemmerle’s book and SearchLight, V-4, p 2, for evidence that this is the same John Light (1724-1822).
2) SearchLight, IV-4, p 3, corrects the error made by Moses Light in 1896, concerning two brothers John and Jacob. John was rich in sons; Jacob was rich in this world’s goods, but childless, so he adopted the two youngest of his brother’s children, Samuel and Martin. My great-great-grandfather Oliver Perry Light, writing in the 1890s, still had family records which showed the brothers Samuel and Martin to be children of our John, not the John Light of Lebanon Twp (SearchLight, pp 242-243).
Moses Light’s John Light was the 1738 immigrant on the Winter Galley, the builder of the “Old Fort,” and the father of sons John, Martin, Jacob and Henry, plus a daughter Anna. There are various mistakes in the Moses Light book, including the date of immigration and the identification of several men with the same names. Some of these mistakes have been cleared up in different issues of SearchLight.
3) There was indeed a John Light who married a Catherine Britzius. As with everything else I am writing here, the facts have already appeared in SearchLight, but have been ignored by some researchers. Their marriage record is given on p 235: Dec 2 1782, in Lancaster PA. His Revolutionary War pension papers are copied on the same page. These demonstrate that he was born on Dec 25 1754 in Westchester Co NY and died Jul 2 1834. Catherine Britzius (at times written Bridges) Light died on Jan 27 1846 leaving one surviving daughter, Mrs Sarah Adams. SearchLight on p 254 gives added information about this family, namely their 1790 census in Lancaster PA, with neighbors named Britzius, and data from the will of Isaac Britzius mentioning his sister Catherine, the wife of John Light. They always lived from the time of their marriage in Lancaster PA. This was the John Light at Valley Forge.
Obviously, this cannot be Catherine, the wife of our John Light (1724-1822), or the wife of his son Jacob (1757-1831), whose wife Catherine Harmon was born in 1764 and died in 1833. The mistake was perpetuated by a DAR marker in the Ohio cemetery where John was buried, stating his wife was Catherine Britzius. An earlier DAR Patriot Index, p 415, has Catherine Britzius as the wife of our Jacob Light.
Catherine Britzius has no part in our ancestry, except for a footnote and an explanation of why she shows up so often.
4) One of the most common errors in genealogy is the assumption that if “it’s the same name, it must be the same man.” The most common occurrences of this tendency in our Light family have to do with Catherine Britzius, who without doubt did marry a John Light (see above), but another example may be found on the page 459 of SearchLight; What is there to prove that the John Light who lived in Montgomery Co PA was the same John Light whose son Jacob married Catherine Harmon? Our John can be followed pretty well throughout his entire life, and I do not see him ever in Montgomery Co. The submission on p 393 gives an accurate example of comparing two men with the same name in the same place, but not considering them the same man.
An example of the extremes caused by this kind of mistake may be seen on p 408 of SearchLight, where Catherine Britzius is stated to have been born in 1763, married in 1782 and the mother of Peter, born in 1746. All this because more than one man was named John Light, and the submitter assumed they were one man.
This page also gives our John and Catherine (—) Light a son David and no son Martin. David is questionable, as is a son Benjamin, but neither is mentioned in their uncle Jacob’s 1808 will. There was certainly a son Martin.
The excerpts entitled “Going Over the Mountain” on pages 445, 459, and 460 of SearchLight have two major problems that I can see: first, it is not clear which portions of the data given were compiled by S H Light of Ansonia OH in 1911, and which were added in 1991 by William Charles Light of Greenville OH, and what sources were used for the newer data. Did S H Light believe, as shown at the bottom of the first column on p 459, that our John’s wife was Catherine Britzius, or did William Charles Light find that mistake on p 201 of SearchLight (see reference given) and add it as though proven? Keeping track of sources is the first step for all genealogy; combining two men’s records and forgetting who said what first should not be done.
Second, what are the sources for the families given? This article gives three German brothers: William, Benjamin and Sir Henry (How would a German say “Sir Henry” anyway?); second generation, Henry Jr; third generation, John, Martin, Benjamin and Jacob; fourth generation, Jacob, Daniel, Peter, David and Barbara; fifth generation, the proven children of our Jacob Light (1757-1831). What are the sources for this data?
By contrast, in SearchLight, V-2, p 7, we can see references to original documents demonstrating that our Jacob Light Sr (d ca 1763) had the following children: Jacob, John, Peter, Benjamin, Christian, Elizabeth, Barbara and Ann. The children of the second generation John Light (1724-1822) are given in a 1808 will (SearchLight, IV-4, p 7; V-2, p 7): Peter, Daniel, Jacob, Barbara, Samuel and Martin. As stated above, there may have been a David and a Benjamin.
John, the father of our Jacob Light, had the brothers and sisters given in the 1763 deed and the 1808 will, and was the son of Jacob Light. It has yet to be proven if two Henry Lights fit into this family. Evidence from the 1700s has not been shown to prove these Henrys existed.
5) Early sources do not mention a relationship between the two founders of New Richmond, Jacob Light and Thomas Ashburn. See History of Clermont Co OH, Louis H Everts (1880), pp 406 and 407; and an article in the Clermont Sun, Jun 30 1966. The families appear totally separate. A reference to Jacob Light’s nephew (unidentified, possibly a son of his brother Daniel) in Everts may be the origin of this mistake.
The source of the claim that Mrs Thomas Ashburn was a sister of Jacob Light’s seems to be a 1975 article in the Cincinnati News (SearchLight, I-2, p 5). I have not seen this claim made before 1975 and I have seen it made several times since, probably referring back to the Cincinnati article.
Jacob Light did have a daughter Susanna, who married Timothy Conner. The children of Jacob’s father John Light are given above; there was no known daughter Susannah.
Newsletters like SearchLight reprint articles and data submitted by others. The mistakes belong to the submitters, not to the editor. Note that true facts for all of the above have appeared in SearchLight and all that needs to be done is study the material printed using some basic criteria: who says so? how does he know? is that really the same man? are the dates consistent? The articles to follow are those which refer to contemporary documents, and which answer the above questions.
What is known about our branch of the Light family is due to the painstaking efforts of Bertha Minnick, Mary Kemmerle and Betty Light Behr. Thanks to the three of you for hours and years of pleasant reading.
© Kathy Alvis Patterson 2008