David Myers Life Sketch

(1804 - 1868)

David Myers was born on January 25, 1804, in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. David married (1) Elizabeth Holtzapfel around 1825 in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, (2) Mary MNU around 1857 and (3) Catharine Keister around 1861. David Myers died on July 20, 1868, in Juniata County, Pennsylvania.

David Myers was born on January 25, 1804, in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, the 7th of 8 known children of Samuel Myers and Catherine Rush. David was of Germanic descent, often referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch though Pennsylvania German is a more accurate description. He grew up on his father's farm, at the time in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, along Lost Creek a little upstream from Cuba Mills. Today the property is in Juniata County on Cuba Mills Road and the house where David and his siblings grew up still stands. Highway 22 runs through the middle of the property.

David's father Samuel acquired land from his father and also became a large landowner in his own right. In 1824 Samuel began to parcel his land and deed it to his children. On May 29, 1824, Samuel deeded the family homestead to David and 3 of his siblings, Michael, Susannah, and Sarah, 329 acres in Fermanagh Township, Mifflin County, as tenants in common. The 329 acres included a tract containing 304 acres, an adjoining woodland of 25 acres, and a stone house which was built by Samuel in 1790.

Around 1825 David married Elizabeth Holtzapfel, daughter of Adam Holtzapfel and Elizabeth Mertz. David and Elizabeth had the following known children:

  1. Enoch Edmund Myers
  2. Mary Myers
  3. Leah Myers (died in infancy)
  4. David Myers
  5. Rudolph Myers
  6. Seth F Myers
  7. John Myers
  8. Elizabeth E Myers
  9. Leonard N Myers
  10. Amelia Myers
  11. Samuel C Myers
  12. Jane A Myers

David's father Samuel was a member of the German Brethren Church and David followed the faith eventually becoming a Reverend and Elder in addition to being a farmer. The congregation was known as the Lost Creek Church of the Brethren.

In 1828 David's father Samuel died. Samuel did not leave a will as he had deeded his estate to his children prior to his death.

Following Samuel's death David's sister Sarah and her husband Samuel Lutz immediately sold their one fourth share to David likely because they already resided in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The following year, David's brother Michael sold his one fourth share to sister Susannah and her husband Jacob Eby and Michael moved near Lewistown. A few months later, Susannah and Jacob sold their now one half share to David. David held the property until 1834 when he sold the entire tract to John Forry of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for $9000.

Between Samuel's death and the time the property was sold, Juniata county was formed from Mifflin county and the family's farm was in the newly formed county. The farm eventually passed into the hands of Jacob Steely and then parts of the property were deeded to Enoch and Elias Horning in 1864 by Jacob Steely's heirs.

After the sale of property, David and his family moved close to McAlisterville in Fayette Township where his wife's father and mother lived.

In 1838 David purchased 20 acres of land in Fayette township from Joshua Puffenbarger. The following year he purchased a much larger tract in Fayette township from the heirs of William Mitchell. The property had once been possessed by Samuel Mitchell who devised it to his son William Mitchell in 1783. William died intestate in 1804 and the land descended to his heirs. Because the land had originally been part of 2 surveys patented to Samuel Mitchell, one in 1766 and one in 1767, the acreage was somewhat uncertain. When Elizabeth Wilson, William Mitchell's widow, quitclaimed the property to David on March 27, 1839, she released her right of dower to 180 acres. On July 13, 1839, Samuel Mitchell Smith, grandson of William Mitchell and Nancy McAlister, sold the property “supposed to contain 170 acres” to David for $3200.

In the middle of the former Mitchell property David built a house for his large family. The house still stands today on Route 35 North, about 1 mile west of McAlisterville.

David added to his land holdings in 1844 when he purchased half parts of two tracts of land from Peter Witmer, one tract containing 128 acres and the other containing 59 acres. Both tracts were on the east side of Fayette township located today on Route 35 North. The other half parts of the two tracts were owned by David Smith.

In 1847 David resurveyed and then patented the property he purchased from the Mitchell heirs. The surveys confirmed that the piece granted to Samuel Mitchell in 1766 contained 102 acres. The other piece granted to Samuel Mitchell in 1767 was found to contain 90 acres, the two properties combined equalled 192 acres of land.

In November of 1849 son Enoch married Nancy Musser. The Musser's farm was within a half mile of the Myers farm and had at one time been owned by the Myers family. Nancy was 16 years of age and her father had died the year prior. Nancy's brother Joseph was her guardian and likely approved the marriage. The following August Enoch and Nancy welcomed John Thaddeus Myers, David's first grandchild.

Around 1850 daughter Mary married George Washington McAlister, also known as G. W. McAlister. The McAlister family was of Scottish descent and lived in the Juniata Valley since the 1750's patenting large tracts of land in what would become Mifflin and Juniata Counties. The Myers and McAlister families bought and sold land with each other for 50+ years and lived adjoining each other's farms. However, the marriage between the two families is notable since it was one of the first in the Myer's and McAlister's families to cross the lines of ethnicity and faith.

Also in 1850, Joseph Woods sold to the “Reverend David Myers” 38 acres of land in Fayette township near Shade Mountain.

In 1852 David sold the 20 acres of land he had purchased from Joshua Puffingbarger to Daniel Boileau (also spelled Boilieu and Bayleu).

On July 14, 1853, David's wife Elizabeth died. They had been married for 27 years. She was buried on the family property in a small cemetery across the street from their residence and where her mother was buried the year before.

Sometime around 1854 sons Seth and Leonard left home to pursue their educational studies, Seth becoming a doctor and Leonard becoming a lawyer. Seth apprenticed under Dr. Benney in Center County and then Dr. Baldwin of Shirleysburg. He attended lectures at the Medical University of New York and then the Pennsylvania Medical College. Seth completed his courses in 1857 and moved to South Bend, Indiana, where he married Ann Eliza Harper around 1858. When the Civil War began in 1861, Seth served as a surgeon in the 73rd Indiana Infantry and then surgeon of the Post Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Following the war he practiced medicine in Philadelphia where his only child, a son, died at the age of 16 from typhoid fever. Seth, with his wife, returned to McAlisterville in 1884 where they lived until their deaths.

Son Leonard taught school in the states of Pennsylvania, Illinois and Indiana. By 1860 Leonard studied law and passed the bar exam in South Bend, Indiana. He shared a storefront and house in South Bend, Indiana, with his brother Seth. Sometime before 1866 Leonard returned to Pennsylvania, married Mary Louise Motz, and settled in Snyder County where over the course of his career he served as District Attorney and a State Representative. He and his family eventually moved to Akron, Ohio, where they lived for the rest of their lives.

In 1855 son Rudolph married Harriet Musser, sister of Enoch's wife Nancy. Harriet was a few months short of her 17th birthday. Like her sister, her guardian was her brother Joseph and he likely approved the marriage.

On March 19, 1855, David sold a 16 acre part of his land to his son-in-law G. W. McAlister, and in the deed, promised to leave the road open which passed through David's land to the 16 acre part.

On April 1, 1856, David purchased a lot in McAlisterville. A few weeks later he assigned the lot to his son David Jr. David Jr. built a store on the lot and founded the firm D. Myers & Co., comprised of himself, Reuben Caveny & James M. Sellers. The building still stands today on the northwest corner of Main Street and School Street.

Also in April of 1856 sons Enoch and Rudolph, likely with their father's financial assistance, purchased 320 acres in Jo Daviess county. Illinois. Rudolph left for Illinois immediately where his first child was born in November. Enoch however had also purchased land in Wayne County, Ohio, and, along with his brother-in-law Martin Musser, moved to Wayne County. Wayne County was home to John Rush Myers, David's brother and Enoch's uncle. By 1861 Enoch and his family joined his brother Rudolph in Illinois. Enoch remained in Illinois until his death while Rudolph eventually settled in Sabetha, Kansas. When Enoch was dying, Rudolph traveled from Sabetha to Illinois to be with his brother.

Around 1857 David married again, Mary whose maiden name is not known.

David's 12 year old nephew Ambrose Strayer, the son of Susan Holtzapfel, moved in with David's family after the death of his father George Strayer in 1859.

Around 1860 daughter Elizabeth married John W. Muthersbaugh. Following their marriage, Elizabeth and John moved to Stephenson County, Illinois, close to her brother Rudolph. It appears that Illinois must not have suited the couple since by 1861, Elizabeth and John were back in Pennsylvania where their first child was born. On September 1, 1864, John mustered into the Civil War with the Pennsylvania 210th Regiment. It is unclear whether he volunteered or he was drafted. He served less than 6 months before being discharged by special order in December.

Around 1861 David married for a third time, Catharine Keister, the widow of John Shellenberger, and daughter of John Keister and Lydia Rote.

On March 25, 1861, David Myers Jr. sold back to David the lot and building in McAlisterville. David Jr. moved to Chicago where, starting in 1866, he patented numerous inventions including several for railroad car brakes, 1 for a railroad car spring and 1 for a rotary plough. His most famous invention was known as the “Myers fireless locomotive”, patented in 1870, a pneumatic street car which was used on Chicago's Hyde Park extension of the south side streetcar line. David also shared a patent with Albert B Pullman of the famous Pullman family who owned the Pullman Palace [Railroad] Car Company. Unfortunately at the age of 46, David began to experience mental issues and by 1880 was interned at the North Illinois Hospital for the Insane in Elgin, Illinois. He never recovered and died there in 1887 leaving a widow and no known children.

In May of 1861 David traveled to Huntingdon County to attend a German Brethren council meeting as a delegate representing the Lost Creek congregation of Juniata County. Among the topics discussed were the Civil War which led to a postponement of a yearly meeting with the Virginia Brethren, the decision to proceed with a mission to Oregon, and the famine in Kansas affecting fellow Brethren which resulted in a collection of funds to come to their aid.

In April of 1862 David again traveled to Huntingdon County as a delegate of the Lost Creek congregation. At this meeting the most pressing issues were questions and interpretations regarding Brethren practices and faith.

Likely around this time, David decided to move closer to the Brethren Church located on the east side of McAlisterville. The east side was also where his third wife's children and grandchildren lived. David built a house on the property he purchased in 1844.

In October of 1862 David wrote 3 deeds to four of his children, Samuel, Elizabeth, Amelia and Jane. In the first deed he gave Samuel, Elizabeth, Amelia and Jane all his livestock and household furniture. In the second and third deeds he gave Samuel, Amelia and Jane a tract of 100 acres of land “being part of the tract that Samuel M. Smith conveyed on July 13, 1839”, and included the house David built, and a tract of 38 acres, the land purchased from Joseph Woods in 1850.

David again represented the Lost Creek Church at the Brethren Council Meeting that occurred in March of 1864 at the Lewistown church in Mifflin County. The two important issues were whether Brethren should be allowed to hold office or even take part in elections and the timing of annual meetings due to weather, the description: “raw, unpleasant, and frequently deep snows fall about Easter, and thereby many are deprived from attending as was the case this year in consequence of the snow that fell Friday.” So the next meeting was scheduled for October of the same year. David did not attend the October meeting.

However in October of 1865, the Lost Creek congregation hosted the annual meeting in Juniata County and again David was a delegate representing the congregation. Brethren holding office was further discussed. Tax assessor? State Legislator? And again, the council disapproved, citing that “No man can serve two masters”. Perhaps the most important discussion was the location of the next annual meeting. The Civil War had ended in the Spring of 1865 but there were still “troubles existing in our beloved country”. A committee was formed to recommend and secure a place.

On March 26, 1866, David sold the lot and store he owned in McAlisterville, the same one he had repurchased from his son David Jr., to his son-in-law and daughter John and Elizabeth Muthersbaugh.

In October of 1866 the German Brethren council convened at the Upper Cumberland Church. David was there representing the Lost Creek congregation and matters of Brethren practices were discussed.

Around 1866 daughter Jane married Alfred Fisher, a doctor in the town of McAlisterville.

In October of 1867 David's children Amelia and Jane sold the shares of the property their father had deeded them to their brother Samuel.

Sometime between October of 1867 and May of 1868, daughter Amelia married James Devling and moved to Loch Haven, Pennsylvania.

David wrote his Will on May 14, 1868. He bequeathed his third wife Catherine $600 and all personal possessions she brought into the marriage. To his eldest son Enoch he devised $150, which was in addition to the dividend Enoch was to receive when the residue of David's estate was sold. He bequeathed to his grandson Thaddeus Myers, his watch. George Myers, “minister of the Gospel'', was to receive “two of my best tight body coats, two of my best vests, 3 pairs of my best pantelons [sic pantaloons i.e. pants] and three of my best shirts.” The balance of his clothing was to go to his daughter Elizabeth Muthersbaugh.

David bequeathed his 3 sons and 2 daughters “David Myers, Dr. Seth Myers and Samuel C. Myers, Amelia Devling and Jane Fisher, the sum of $1 to each and every one of them in full of their legacy of which I have given them in former times”. To his 6 remaining children “Enoch Myers, Rudolph Myers, John Myers, Leonard N Myers, Mary McAlister and Elizabeth Muthersbaugh”, he devised the balance of his real and personal property to be equally shared. David's son Leonard was named executor of the Will.

David Myers died on July 20, 1868, at the age of 64. He was buried in the Myers - Leonard Cemetery in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, next to his first wife Elizabeth.

After the death of his father, son Samuel settled on the original family homestead, never married and also became an inventor. In 1871 Samuel along with James McCauley received a patent for “Improvement in Attachments of Band-Cutters and Thrashing Machines”. In 1884 Samuel sold the family homestead to Benjamin Shellenberger. He moved to Mifflintown where he became a dealer in farm implements.

As for David's son John, the last record for him is his father's Will. In the US 1860 Census, John, age 22, was living at home. A descendant cites that John, like his brothers, became an inventor, and invented the washing machine. A patent exists, filed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1878, by a John Myers of Cook County, for “Improvements in Washing Machines”. Coincidentally, Cook County is also where David Myers Jr. is known to have lived at the time. Whether this is David's son is unknown and no further records have been found for John Myers of Cook County, Illinois.

Genealogical Research and Life Sketch Completed: February 2024


"United States Census, 1830", FamilySearch, Entry for David Myars, 1830.

"United States Census, 1840", FamilySearch, Entry for David Myers, 1840.

"United States Census, 1850", FamilySearch, Entry for David Myers and Eliza Myers, 1850.

"United States Census, 1860", Entry for David Myers, 1860.

Jordan, John W. “A History of the Juniata Valley and Its People”, Vol III. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, 1913.

“Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of The Juniata Valley, comprising the Counties of Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata, and Perry Pennsylvania”. J. M. Runk & Co, Chambersburg, PA, 1897.

Mifflin Co., PA. Recorder of Deeds. Book R Folio 270.

Mifflin Co., PA. Recorder of Deeds. Book R Folio 349.

Mifflin Co., PA. Recorder of Deeds. Book S Folios 22, 23 & 61.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Vol A Folio 440. Microfilm 007902088. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Vol C Folio 217 & 352. Microfilm 008085574. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Vol D Folio 772. Microfilm 008085518. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Warrant Registers, 1733-1957”. Images, Pennsylvania State Archives. Juniata County, PA. Warrant #10. Survey Book C-157-29 & Survey Book C-157-51.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Vol G Folio 7 & 807. Microfilm 008030739. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Vol J Folio 194 & 257. Microfilm 008085578. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Vol K Folio 656, 658 & 659. Microfilm 008085579. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Misc Dockets Vol A Folio 497. Microfilm 008085581. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Deeds, 1831-1866”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Misc Dockets Vol B Folio 347. Microfilm 008085582. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Register of Wills, 1831-1917”. Images, FamilySearch, Juniata County PA. Vol C Folio 492. Microfilm 005544646. FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)

Royer, Galen Brown. “A History of the Church of the Brethren in the Middle District of Pennsylvania”, 1924.

Kurtz, Henry. “The Gospel Visitor”. Vol 14 No 1-17, Columbiana OH.

Benner, Mary S. Letter to Mrs Dock. (1928, Oct 22).

Benner, Mary S. Letter & Photos to Mr S W Myers (1929, Jan 2).

David Myers genealogy research