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1 Peter Binkele

Peter Binckele was born in 1704 in Guggisberg, Bern, Switzerland, son of Christian Binckele or Binggeli and Elisabeth Burri. His father died when he was about 9, and when he was 13 his mother moved into Alsace [now Bas-Rhin, France]. He was living with his brother in the Steinthal district of Germany when he met and married Anna Maria Werle (1704-1748).

Peter Binkele, Maria Werle, and their eight children emmigrated to America on the Princess Augustus, landing in Philadelphia on September 16, 1736. Seven more children were born before 1745. They lived at Warwick (Lititz) and then near York, PA, where Anna Maria died in 1748.

Peter then married Anna Margaretha Geiger, the widow Schnell (1722-1803) in 1749 and moved with her to Monocacy Maryland in 1763. They finally settled near Bethania NC in 1772. Peter died there in 1793, survived by 12 of his total of 23 children from the two marriages.

Peter's will, written 3 March 1791 and probated in September 1793 in Stokes county North Carolina names his wife Margaretha, his sons John, Peter, Frederick, Joseph, Jacob, and Christian, and his stepson John Shemel, all of North Carolina, his son John Adam in Cumberland, and his daughters Sarah (Edward) Bartley, Christina (Caspter) Fisher, Catherine Henig, Margaretha (Ulrio) Wollewether, and Elizabeth, dec. (Georg) Herbock.

[Anna Barbara Binckele (wife of Johann Valentine Frey) was oringinally thought to be the daughter of Peter Binkele and Maria Werle. Further research has shown that this is unlikey. Anna Barbara is more likely to be the daughter of one of Peter Binkele's brothers and thus still the grand daughter of Christian Binkele. Research is continuing on the ancestry of Anna Barbara Binckele]

Children of Peter Binckele and Anna Maria Werle
1. Maria Binckele (1725-?)
2. Catharina Binckele (1727-?) m. ? Honig (Honey)
3. Peter Binckele (1728-?) probably died in childhood
4. Christman Binckele (1729-?) probably died in childhood
5. Anna Binckele (1731-?)
6. Sarah Binckele (1733-?) m. 1) Leonard Moser, 2) Edward Bartley
7. Margaretha Binckele (1735-?) m. Hans Ulrich (Fulwider) Vollenweider (lived Augusta Co. VA)
8. Christina Binckele (1738-?) m. Caspar Fischer, living Cumberland TN
9. Elisabeth Binckele (1740-?) probably died in childhood
10. Anna Barbara Binckele (1741-?) probably died in childhood
11. Johannes Binckele (1743-ca. 1801) m. 1) Anna Schor/Shore and m. 2) Johanna Jacobina Lyd/Leedy
12. Johann Adam Binkley (1744-1837) m. Maria Magdalena Weller (1744-1826), lived Cheatham Co. TN
13-14. unnamed twin infants (b. & d. 1745)


Children of Peter Binckele and Anna Margaretha Geiger
15. Elisabeth Binckele (1749-1780) m. George Harbaugh (b. 1747) (s/oGeorge Harbaugh and Catherine Williard (widow Bender)
16. Christian Binckele (1751-1799) did not marry
17. Johann Peter Binckele (1753-1819) m. Susanna Margaretha Dull (1759-1822)
18. Anna Maria Binckele (1755-1759,PA)
19. Friedrich Binckele (1757-1834) m. Elizabeth Dull (1764-1849)
20. Joseph Binkley (1761-1794) m. Catharina Holder (1762-1816)
21. unnamed infant
22. Anna Maria Binckele (1764-1790,NC) did not marry
23. Jacob Binckele (1767-?) m. Maria Barbara Demuth

Peter Binkele left a Lebenslauf or funeral memoir in accordance with Moravian custom in order to allow the deceased to "speak"at his own funeral, the first part of the memoir was usually dictated to someone else, often a number of years before the subject's death. This first part typically contains an account of the subject's secular life and the details of his spiritual journey including how he came to accept salvation. The second part, frequently introduced by a formula such as "So far his own story" was added after the person's death and contained information about the cause of death, a description of the deceased's last days and hours, an assessment of his life, and the names of any survivors. The Moravians customarily sang hymns and read Scripture to the dying, and the member's reaction to this is frequently included as well as comments the member made about his approaching death.

Because of Peter's funeral memoir, we are able to know more about him than we know about some of our other ancestors. Not only do we know his date of birth, his parents' names, his wives' names, his date of death, but we know many details of his life that might otherwise have been lost. We know of his early fatherlessness and poverty, of the ways he earned a living, of his concern for his children's education, and of his interest in spiritual matters. (Peter appears to have been very much a seeker, not satisfied with the church into which he was baptized as an infant.) And, of course, we know of the most dramatic event of his life, his being struck by lightning.

Peter's will also yields valuable information about his life. Besides documenting which of his twenty-three children survived him, it hints that Peter was a man of foresight and sound judgment. Surprisingly sophisticated, the will not only provides for the division of Peter's material goods among his survivors but also ensures the future care of his son Christian, who was evidently mentally retarded. It appears that Peter received assistance in drafting the will as Abraham Steiner signed it with the designation "Juret."

The Bethania Diary, a journal kept by the Moravians in the Bethania community, notes that at the time of his death Peter Binkley was the oldest member of their congregation Records indicate that Peter may have been a lay minister in the Moravian Church as it is recorded that he often traveled with the ordained minister on preaching journeys through the area. As a waggoner during the Revolutionary War Peter delivered supplies to the militia and earned a place on the DAR Patriot Index. He left behind a legacy of service to his God, his country, and his family that is still honored more than two hundred years after his death.

Peter Binckley's Memoir

From The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Volume 4, page 1824:

July 11, 1782 - Brother Binckele came to have his memoir written, which was done on the twelfth by Sister Cramer.

(A copy of the translation of the original German memoir, found in the archives of the Moravian Brethren at the Home Church, Salem, North Carolina. Translated by Dr. Adelaide Fries, archivist; copy secured from her by Ruth Carver Gardner, June 25, 1934.)

who departed this life August 29, 1793. He was born March 2, 1704, in the village of Guckensberg in Canton Berne in Switzerland. His parents were Christian Binckley and Elizabeth, maiden name Burg. In his ninth year his father passed out of Time; on account of their poverty our departed brother had been obliged to seek his support from outsiders already in his sixth year.

In his thirteenth year his mother moved into Alsace and the following year his brother came for him, and he lived with him for three years herding his cattle. Then he served another farmer for two years. The latter advised him to learn the trade of shoemaker; he had been in that work only fourteen days when he engaged himself for two years to an innkeeper as driver. The large size of the farm and many opportunities for doing evil led him to concern about the salvation of his soul. In order to get away from that place he married Anna Maria Werly and remained in the neighborhood, that is, in the Steinthal District, for twelve years, supporting his family by cutting wood in the forest and burning charcoal.

In the eighth year after his marriage, he and another man with whom he was cutting grass were struck by lightning as they had taken shelter under a beech tree from the rain, and he was so badly burned that for several weeks he was confined to his bed. This occurrence delayed for four years his plan of going to America, but meanwhile he associated himself with the Awakened People of the neighborhood.

In the year 1736 he and several other Awakened families emigrated to America, reaching Philadelphia toward the end of September. The same fall he went to Warwick (now Lititz: Dr. Fries) and remained there two years. From there he moved to Catores, nine miles above Yorktown. Here he was associated with the Separatists and heard for the first time of pious count Zinzendorf, who however had already returned to Europe. Soon after, for the first time he heard a Brother give free witness to the full atonement for sin mdae by Jesus, which was very comforting to our departed Brother, who hitherto had not so listened with open ears and heart to the doctrine of the sufferings and death of Jesus which alone could make men holy. He quietly sought every opportunity to attend services of the Brethren, where he frequently heard Brother Spangenberg preach, whereby he received some blessing.

In 1748 his wife died after a married life of about twenty-four years, blessed with fourteen children of whom six are still living. In 1749 he married widow Maria Margaretha, maiden name Geiger , and in the second marriage God gave him nine children of whom six are living. In the year 1750 he was received into Unity, and in 1752 he attended holy communion for the first time. In 1763 he moved to Manakasy to be nearer a schoolhouse, but as there he could get only one hundred acres of land and had no water, he sold that farm and in 1772 moved with his family to Wachovia and established himself three miles from Bethania.

So far his own story.

From his life here it can be said according to his own testimony that he loved the Saviour and in spite of failings and errors it was his intention to rejoice His heart; that his joy was in the Word of God and in the services of the church was manifest, for when because of advanced age he could no longer ride a horse he constantly walked three miles from home in order to attend services. In the midst of all the difficulties which surrounded him he permitted nothing to dissolve association with the Congregation, and he often said that the Saviour was his One and his All, his only comfort and Support, and how constantly he longed to be at home with Him. All who knew him honored him as an upright and peace-loving man.

As late as the eleventh of this month he came to Services and as usual he was happy and affectionate. The same evening he had a hard fall which apparently revived an injury which he had received in a fall last spring and from which he seemed to have recovered. The same evening he must go to bed, and it soon became evident that this was to be the cause of his release. The pain which he suffered was much increased by a severe cough; yet, he was bright and content when the blessedness of being with Jesus was pointed out to him. He said he did not know what the plan of the Saviour was, but he was entirely ready to submit to His will , and that he could gladly say that nothing disturbed his mind.

On the day before his home-going, he was visited by several Brethren from here; he was quite cheerful and affectionate, and he appeared much pleased by verses sung for him, during which he folded his hands together. He remained conscious to the end and passed away gently and peacefully toward evening on the twentieth of this month.

His age was eighty-nine years, five months, eighteen days. He is now in peace. Of his twenty-three children by his first and second marriages, eleven are still living. He left sixty-two grandchildren and fifty-six great-grandchildren. So that as far as we can learn the entire number of his still living children and children's children is 129.

Peter Binkley's Last Will and Testament


"In the name of God Amen, I, Peter Binkley of the County of Stokes in the State of North Carolina being of Sound disposing mind, memory, and understanding through the Mercy of God, Do make and ordain this my last Will and testament in manner and form following that is to say, first and principally I resign my soul with the utmost Humility into the hands of the Almighty God my Creator humbly hoping for a blessed immortality through the merits and mediation of my blessed Savior and redeemer Jesus Christ & my body I desire may be peaceably and decently buried.

And as for such Temporal Estate as the Lord in his great goodness & mercy has given me & whereof I am now in possession I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Margaretha during her natural life all the rents interest profits and income of all my Estates both real and personal to have and to hold the same for and during her natural life and unto the full end & expiration thereof. And as for the management of my said Estate I will that after my decease an exact inventory and appraisement of all my Estate both real and personal be made by two knowing and honest Freeholders out of the Neighborhood the one of them to be chosen by my said wife Margaretha and the other by my executors hereafter to be named and if two such freeholders cannot agree then the said freeholders shall choose the third freeholder to be arbiter between them. And I will that after the execution of such inventory and appraisement/: copies whereof in writing are to be given one unto my said wife Margaretha and another unto my executors/: all my lands tenements, _______, livestock, and chattel by my said executors shall be let out at and for the most improved rent that may and can be gotten for the same for the benefit of my said wife Margaretha and therefrom she shall be maintained for and during her natural life and so that the lands tenements _____________& buildings with every thing there unto belonging or appertaining and also every thing rented away shall be kept in good order by the renter or executor I further will that my said wife Margaretha shall keep and rent the plantation whereon I now live together with the buildings thereon if she is willing so to do and in case she declines the keeping and the said plantation then the said plantation by my said executors shall be let out to any other person or persons to the best advantage as aforesaid and further I will that in any case my said wife Margaretha during her natural life shall keep unto her own use my now dwelling house without an Gift or Maturation whatsoever

I further give and bequeath unto my sons John Binkley Peter Binkley Frederick Binkley Joseph Binkley Jacob Binkley, Christian Binkley and John Shemel all in the State of North Carolina and likewise unto my son John Adam Binkley in Cumberland to each of them the sum of three pound lawful money of the State to be taken into possession by each of them within one half year after the decease of my said wife Margaretha. After deduction the above twenty four pounds which I have already disposed of, all my estate both real and personal shall be divided into fourteen equal parts of which I give unto my son John Binkley now in North Carolina one part. I give unto my son Peter Binkley now in North Carolina one part I give unto my son Joseph Binkley now in North Carolina one part I give unto my son Fredrick Binkley now in North Carolina one part I give unto my son Jacob Binkley now in North Carolina one part I give unto my son Christian Binkley now in North Carolina two parts I give unto my son John Adam Binkley now in Cumberland one part I give unto my son John Shemel/: who is a natural son of my wife Margaretha now in North Carolina one part. I give unto my Daughter Sara Bartly wife of Edward Bartly of North Carolina one part,I give unto my Daughter Christina Fisher wife of Chasper Fisher of Cumberland one part. I give unto my Daughter Catharine Honig late wife of Honig Dec'd of Stoverstown in Virginia one part, I give unto my Daughter Margaretha Wollewether wife of Ulric Wollewether of Stanton in Virginia one part I give unto my Daughter Elizabeth Herbach deceased late the wife of Georg Herbach of Manakosey in Maryland one part and whereas my daughter Elizabeth Herbach is deceased I will that the part belonging to her shall be given to and divided among the Children of her body equally to each one alike out of the above part. And I will that each of my sons and each of my Daughters shall have their part respectively within the span of one year after the above Division

And I will that my son Christian Binkley/: who seems to be of a Simple & unthoughtful Mind and disposition shall choose one of his own Brothers, with who he shall stay during the remainder of his life which Brother so chosen if he is willing to perform it shall give a bond with approved Security unto my said son Christian to be secured by any honest & able friend he may choose for that purpose that my said son Christian during the remainder of his lifetime and to the full end and expiration thereof shall stay with him the said Brother He, the said Brother during all such time shall find unto and for my said son Christian good and sufficient meat Drink clothing washing lodging and good attendance in Sickness and after his decease shall cause him to be decently buried He the said brother as a reward for his services shall have all the benefit of my son Christian's labors and after having performed all and every such Article and Articles the said brother shall have then all the inheritance which my said son Christian may then have or which he may be entitled to take possession of by virtue of this my last Will & testament

and further I will that all and every of my Children who may have had of me money land goods or chattel or any other articles whatsoever on account of their respective inheritances before the signing of this my last Will and Testament shall be accountable for the same unto my Estate and also shall pay interest at the rate of five per Centum per annum unto my Estate and the Interest to begin from the first Day of January AD one thousand seven hundred & ninety one and likewise I will that whoever afterward may get any Articles of what name soever of me or of my said Wife Margaretha on account of his or her inheritance shall therefore be accountable unto my Estate and shall pay interest as above mentioned unto my Estate of such articles from the time of taking them into possession until the final division of my Estate after the decease of my said wife Margaretha and I will that after the decease of my said Wife Margaretha any real Estate by my executors hereafter to be named shall be sold to the highest bidder and to the best advantage and I herewith empower my said executors to make good, full, and sufficient title of all my real Estate or any part thereof to any buyer thereof

And I will that my executors shall not be answerable the one for the other or for the acts, deed or defaults of the other nor shall either of them be answerable for any part of my Estate but such as shall come to his respective hands And I do hereby will and appoint that my executors shall by and out of my Estate retain & Satisfy themselves all such costs and charges as they shall reasonably be put unto in the execution of this my last Will and testament And I do revoke hereby all other wills by me formerly made & declare this only to be my last will & Testament

And I do Appoint my Sons John Binkley and Peter Binkley Executors thereof And in Case they or any of them shall die or move out of this State then the next oldest of my sons living in this State shall be the executor and executor thereof.

In Witness whereof I the said Peter Binkley heir for the two first Sheets & for this third & last sheet of this my last will set my hand and seal unto this third Sheet. And I do herewith
acknowledge all the three Sheets comprehensively to be my last Will & Testament this third Day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety one.

Peter Binkley his mark (buried at Bethania 1704-Aug 20, 1793 native of Switzerland came from Maryland in 1772 Binkele).

Executors: Sons, John and Peter.

Signed Sealed published and Declared by the said Testator Peter Binkley as and for his last will & Testament in the presence of us who have subscribed our names and witness thereto in the presence of the said Testator: Abraham Steiner, Juret: Christian Stauber, Matthew Esterlein."


Beman/King Genealogy by Virgil Hoftiezer; May 1997.

The Jarvis Family & Other Relatives by Elizabeth Harris and Faye Jarvis Moran

Echoes: A Genealogy Page.

York Co. PA church records

Jurney, James, Ancestry and Descendants of Johann Peter Frey, privately printed, Bellevue WA 1991

Further reading: Moravian Women's Memoirs, Their Related Lives, 1750-1820 by Katherine M. Faull, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 1997