Sometimes I think genealogy is a disease. The historian of Old Frederick
County of Virginia, Wilmer Kerns, once commented to me on the range of reasons
people seemed to get the "bug". I'm not quite sure how or why I
got infected, though it has less to do, I think with "who begat who"
lists than coming to some understanding of the times and places of our people.
I suppose that some take great personal pride in association with socially
prominent or historically important names. Others just seem to like some of
the good old stories.
Genealogy is a collaborative enterprise though, where these days one is often
shooting email to strangers and trying to get them to share scarce facts.
It's a confusing enterprise with conflicting accounts of nearly everything
one hears, and where dead ends and mysteries abound. The process couldn't
be sustained without tons of friends. Little is more satisfying than to find
yourself alone in the world with some question, and to run across someone
with just the right facts and a commitment to sharing. I have a hard drive
full of email correspondence and closet half full of manila envelopes containing
old deeds, news paper clippings, and copies of forty-year old letters.
I feel deeply grateful to have so many friends interested in genealogy, and
interested in those old Eyman bones. It's hard to know where to start, or
where to end in sharing my deep respect and affection for Iman friends. The
following list is in no particular order at all.
There's no doubt but that the most important researcher of Eymans these days
is Torsten Eymann at the University of Freiburg in Germany. He works closely
with Wolfgang Eymann, of Essen-Stadwald, Gemany and has had access to perhaps
generations of research from municipal archives and ancient church records
of Switzerland and the Pfalz area. An American researcher of Krehbiels, Lyle
von Riesen, has studied and collected information on many of the Swiss-German
families of the Palatinate.
Many have helped us understand the Eymans of colonial times. It's easiest
to find information about the families of Lancaster and the Conestoga area.
Helen Harness descends from a West Virginia family who lived near Eymans,
but her research and writing focus has had more to do with the Brenneman lines
with which Eymans are associated. The most difficult challenges seem to be
to surface information about Jacob Eiman <1725> about whom so little
is known, and who we suspect heads our own family lines. Sherrie Smith Yucas,
of Anneville, Pennsylvania specializes in genealogy of Dauphin County and
is keeping her eye out for relevant facts for us.
Americans have been studying Eymans and Imans for a long time. Among the
authors whose work survives are the findings of Richard Yoder and Robert Tissot
of Wooster, Ohio. Robert's daughter Mimi Berman has been helpful in sharing
photographs of an old "fraktur" establishing Susan Heiss as the
wife of the Christian Eyman of Conestoga who died in 1834.
So many correspondents helped me get started. Raymond Iman of Missouri put
me on the right path and introduced me to parts of the family I never knew
existed. He stays in touch with the West Virginia Imans and makes it to their
reunions religiously. J Ray Jones has a deep interest in Abraham Eyman genealogy
and helped also to steer our way.
So many others have been helpful along the way. Ferne Baldwin, at Manchester
College takes great interest in Brethren genealogy and is particularly interested
in the Peter of Hardy County, whose son Peter founded a branch of the Brethren
church. Opal Finney of Tri-State Genealogical and Historical Society of Newell,
West Virginia has worked tirelessly scouring literally thousands of genealogical
publications for references to our elusive Eymans.
Sandy Kinter of White Lake, Michigan had been incredibly helpful to me through
the various phases of my disorder. A long time student of so many of those
inter-related Swiss-American families, her guidance in research and on-going
support have been indispensable. She gets excited when we find stuff and always
has an agenda of questions for her next trip to some archive where she spends
days at microfiche readers.
David Jones of Independence Missouri is a brother in the search. A descendant
of Abraham Eyman of Illinois, Dave sticks to facts and digs hard to produce
them. He knows how to order films from the LDS archives and works at building
systematic databases. He visits the lands of our ancestors too, and conveys
a sense of reverence for the shared enterprise.
Lyle Iman, of Tacoma Washington is another tireless searcher. His story starts
with one of the Jacob Eymans of West Virginia, and we're still trying to figure
out how all of those links worked. He too has been persistent and systematic
at digging out the specifics from local tax files going way, way back in time.
His work dovetails nicely with that of Sandra Evans who has worked tirelessly
with us at the Hardy County Library to dig out Eyman facts from the Appalachians,
and Susan McCabe of Cross Junction, Virginia who scoured Virginia land and
geological records to help us uncover the West Virginia story. Jaime Simmons
at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston, West Virginia
has been supportive not only in digging out information from archives, but
in sharing a deep interest in West Virginia history and culture. Shirley Berg
of Keyser, and May White of Salem, West Virginia have been helpful.
Lois Flyte knows the history of the Whetstones better than anybody, and I
can't wait for her book to be published. She's the kind of helper who can
look at your current understanding of thing and raise a tons of relevant questions
Eyman students will want to know the work of Emmert Bittinger. A professor
of sociology and history, his work has been to convey the rich story of the
many Swiss-German families of the Marva District as they interacted with one
another and took roles in the history of the Brethren Church. His book, "Allegheny
Passage" is a rich treasure trove of information about "South Branch"
families who lived around the Fairfax Manor estates surveyed by George Washington.
Our history through that era was marked by links to the Whetstones, Stookeys,
Landes, Seitz, Shobe, Stump, Garber, Hire, Badgley and Rorabaugh families.
Then, of course, there's family. Debra Eyman-Whitehead in Seattle has been
a great correspondent and has collected tons of information about many branches
of the Eyman family. Judy Burness of Elk Garden in West Virginia has worked
hard to document the history and family ties for that branch of the family.
Leanna Crawford and Carl Eyman of Petersburg know a great deal about family
history there and have shared stories and gotten out the walking shoes to
visit Iman cemeteries which seem, sadly, a bit run down these days.
Many Mid-westerners are interested in Eyman/Iman genealogy, and thanks are
surely due to the good people at the St. Clair County Genealogical Society
in Belleville, Illinois, and to Pat Vaseska who has worked hard at developing
the nearby Monroe County Genealogical Society at Belle Fontaine in Waterloo,
Illinois. Thanks too to cousin Patti Cooper of Collinsville, Illinois. She
descends from Seth Whiteside Iman, a brother of Felix Grundy, our pioneer
to Oregon territory and has worked hard to document our family story.
Mark Stookey and Mark Whitehead know their families well and have helped
to flesh out a vision of Illinois in the early 1800s. Nora Tocus, of Chicago,
is a descendant of the David Badgley who led a migration party of over 100
people from Hardy to New Design just at the end of the 1790s, and she's still
working to dig out the story. Phyllis Elm and Phyllis Veath have a great interest
in the Henry Eyman of early Illinois and have shared graciously what they
know, and the questions we've all still got. Sandy West of Moran, Kansas has
long collected information on that family of Henry and is the wonderful sort
of person who's willing to Xerox wads of stuff and stick things in the mail.
And then, of course, there are those who are helping us piece together an
understanding of Felix and Margaret and those Iman pioneers of the Northwest.
Jim Windsor studied the family hard and with professional diligence, having
long thought there might be a book needing to be written. Jack Moore, Florence
McDonald, and Julie Schall have all been helpful at digging out the facts.
Hank and Eleanor Murphy still know who to talk to in order to get more of
those stories and are struggling to do so.
Jane (Ramsey) Lincicome, of Nashville, Tennessee has long believed that Abraham
Eyman <1767> of Illinois may be the son of an Abraham Sr. who is thought
to have married an Anna Ruth Stookey, the "former Anna Eyman" who
died in Lancaster in 1793. Though this theory is partially supported by printed
accounts from the 1800s, we have been unable to discover supporting information.
There are so many others to than. Andrew Eggman has been a joy to know. Sometimes
Eymans were called "Egman" in records of the First Reformed Church,
and so Andrew and I have had occasion to wonder whether a person was "ours"
or "his". Like Eymans, there aren't too many Egmans or Eggmans around
in the old records, and so one pauses to try to make sure. I even feel grateful
to Ronna J. (Eyman) Eagle of Newark, Ohio. She made a valiant effort many
years ago to test whether or not there might be sufficient interest in a family
newsletter on our genealogy and history to justify the work. Apparently her
subscriptions were fewer than she'd hoped, and so the jewels of her work I've
had the chance to see second-hand were few in number.