Friday, February 21, 2014

Johan Heinrich Rasley (1761 - ??)

A record of the birth of John Henry Rasley is found in the  baptism records of the Tohickon congregation of Bucks County. The record was originally written in German and in the old German script.  The English transcription shows: “Johan Heinrich Rossly born Feb. 17, 1761, bap., Mar 7, 1761."  His parents names are given as Conrad Rossly and Maria Magdalena.  Sponsors were Henry Frey and Margaret Weyerbach.  This record clearly establishes him as the son of Conrad and Magdalena.  Throughout his life he was known as Henry Rasley.

The Rasley family historian, Gladys Gardner, now deceased, of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania  provided the ancestry account of Henry Rasley from the family records which she kept.  The Rasley family has held summer reunions in the Slate Belt Area of Northampton Co., Pennsylvania since 1910.

Henry grew up in a family of seven siblings, he being the second born. The family lived in the area of Williams and Lower Saucon Townships.   By 1777 when he was 16 years old  he  aligned himself with the Militia of Northampton County, Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Archives 5th  Series,  Volume 8  provides documentation of his  service as  a  Private 7th  Class in the 1st  Battalion, 1st  Company of the Northampton County Militia.  The 1st  Battalion in Northampton County  was formed in Williams and Lower Saucon Townships in 1777 under  Colonel  George Hubler.  Like all Battalions it remained active for a term of three years when  a new Battalion was organized. You can read about how the Revolutionary War Militia was organized on  the  Pennsylvania State Archives page.  Joseph Frey was elected Captain of the First Battalion of Northampton Co. in 1777. 
By 1782 his division of the Militia was reorganized into the 4th Battalion under Lt. Col. Philip Boehm.   Captain Anthony Larch was the leader of the 1st Company  in which  Henry Rassly  was a member of the 7th class.
While this card shows “Inactive Duty” we can still understand that  Henry made himself available for service for a period of at least 5 years and very probably for the duration of the Revolutionary War. 

John Henry Rasley married Anna Elizabeth  Schmell about 1788.  While little is known about her, it has been determined that she was the daughter of John Michael Schmell.  Evidence of this relationship is found in the will of John Michael Schmell of Bucks County.  “ March 16, 1795  , michael smell, haycock twp. died sept 1794. left 7 children;  michael, phillip, george, mary, w/o john resly, elizabeth, w/o henry resly, margaret, w/o jacob schoch and susanna, (a minor).”   Of interest in this record is that we learn that  sisters,  Mary  and Elizabeth Schmell married  Rasley brothers, John and Henry.

Henry and Elizabeth became the parents of 13 children.  The first of the children were  born in Lower Saucon Township.   John H., June 17, 1789; Anna Margaret, Oct. 16, 1790; Magdalena,  June 22, 1792;  Jacob,  March 23, 1794;  Johan Heinrich Rasely  Jr., (aka Henry Rasley)  who was born on September 2,  1795, married Jane Ayers and is my  4th great grandfather; and  Elizabeth, March 4, 1797.  Sometime after the birth of  Elizabeth  the family relocated in  Upper Mt. Bethel Township, Northampton Co, Pa. where the last five children were born.  Samuel, Feb. 26, 1799; Conrad, Nov. 26, 1800;  Katherine,  June 13, 1802;   Susanna, Feb. 28, 1804; Jude, Dec. 28, 1805; Anna Maria, Sept. 15, 1807; and Judith, 1808.

The mystery of where these two souls, Henry and Elizabeth, are buried has not been solved.  I have not been able to find death dates for  them either.  If anyone can shed light on this I welcome your input. Henry and Jane Ayers Rasley were my 4th great grandparents. Their daughter Sarah married William McEwen.  Sarah and William had a son, she named Henry, to honor her father and grandfather.  Henry McEwen married Clara Illick.  They were the grandparents of my mother, Lois McEwen Hughes.
These books are available for research at the Marx History Room of the Easton Library, Easton,  Pennsylvania.

  • Pennsylvania Archives 5th Series, Vol. 8
  • Church-book of the Reformed Congregation in Lower Sauconheim : to be used for the congregation to record the births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, also for confirmation, began in the year 1756.
  • Church record of the Lutheran and Reformed congregations in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, 1774-1833 / copied by Wm. J. Hinke.
  • A history of the Tohickon Union Church, Bedminster township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania : with copy of church records, Reformed congregation, 1745-1869, Lutheran congregation, 1749-1840; prepared and translated at the request of the Pennsylvania German Society.
                                  Please see this list of all My Revolutionary War Ancestors.
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