Iman family notes

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 and observations.

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.