Brancheck and Masten Family Ancestry

Brancheck and Masten
Family Ancestry

Through my search of census records, old court records, tombstones, historical reference books, and conferring with others researching the same families, I have been able to gather and document much information on our family's genealogy. Most of my findings are focused on Hazel Masten Brancheck's ancestors and can be found on these pages.
There is a family cemetery just outside of Perryopolis, Pennsylvania where most of our ancestors are buried. The cemetery is called The Little Redstone United Methodist Cemetery. It is on the property of a church with the same name. I will post some photos of the church, cemetery, and tombstones in the near future. I will also post some documents such as transcribed copies of wills of various family members, along with old photographs I have come across.

Hazel Masten Brancheck's family comes from Ireland and Wales on her father's side of the family and possibly Switzerland on her mother's side of the family. On her father's side the immigrant ancestors are Peter Maston (her father's father's line) and Evan ap Stephens (her father's mother's line). Peter Maston was born about 1743 in Ireland. Evan ap Stephens was born about 1692 in Wales. On her mother's side the immigrant ancestors are still being researched. However, it seems one immigrant ancestor (her mother's father's line) may be Solomon Glattfelder born February 1, 1738 in Zurich, Switzerland. If this is true then the family ancestry for Hazel's mother's father's family can then be traced back to as early as 1540 in Switzerland.

Joe Brancheck's family is still being researched. Information will be added as soon as it is available. What is known currently is that Joe's parents were Andy and Anna (Annie). They had five children named Andy, John, Joe, Ludie, and Mildred. A sixth child, Anna, died in infancy. What is not known is where they were from, where they came from, or what the original spelling of the last name was. Andy, John, Joe, and Mildred used Brancheck, but Ludie used Barancheck. Other variations of the surname include Branchak, Branchek, and Branchick. It also could be none of these. However these surnames are being researched currently. Hopefully they will show up soon on a census and more information can be uncovered. There is a family bible that was kept by Mildred and was in Ludie's possession after her death. Unfortunately upon Ludie's death the whereabouts of that valuable piece of information is unknown. It most likely holds the key to the correct spelling of the surname and where to start looking for traces of the family roots.

Update December 19, 2011 - I have located a valuable piece of information for my grandfather's family! I now know that Andy and Annie were Slovaks who came to America in 1891 (Andy) and 1902 (Annie). Neither could read or write English, but they did speak English although their mother tongue was Slovak. According to the information I have found, both of their parents were Slovak as well.

Peter Maston

Peter Maston is Hazel Masten Brancheck's great-great-great grandfather. He left Ireland and came to settle in Dutchess County, New York sometime during the 1760s. He met and married Margaret Frayer about 1766 at Poughkeepsie Reformed Church in Poughkeesie, Dutchess County, New York. Tax records show Peter as a taxpayer in Poughkeepsie through the mid 1760s to early 1770s. Peter and Margaret had 5 children while living in Poughkeepsie.

The Mastons moved to Washington Township in what was then known as Westmoreland County (later changed to Fayette County), about one and one half miles from Fayette City. Nelson's Biographical Dictionary and Historical Reference Book of Fayette County mention the Maston family on pages 919 and 920. It was here that the family settled and Peter and Margaret had their last child, Levi Masten. It is also here that for some reason the surname was changed from Maston to Masten.
  • September 26, 1783 Westmoreland County was changed to Fayette County.
  • 1785-1789 Fayette County, Pennsylvania tax records show Peter Maston as a taxpayer in Washington Township
  • 1786-1787 Peter allowed his home to be used as a place of worship for a Methodist circuit riding minster as mentioned on page 17 of Methodism in Western Pennsylvania
  • 1790 Census shows Peter Maston had 3 free white males over 16 (himself, James, and Ezekiel), 2 free white males under 16 (Peter Jr. and Levi), and 2 free white females (Margaret and Polly).
  • September 15 1792 Peter and son James purchased 65 acres situated on the waters of Little Redstone Creek in Washington Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania from Ephraim Chaimbers for 60 pounds. Recorded in Book 169 page 481 of Fayette County records. (Note*- In the year 1792 one British pound was equivalent to $4.47 so 60 pounds was equivalent to roughly $270.00 )
Of Peter's children, our direct ancestor is Levi Masten. Levi was born on September 24, 1784. He married Sarah Stephens (see Stephens section below) about 1801 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Sarah was born on April 17, 1786 in Washington Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Levi and Sarah had 12 children. Levi died on December 18, 1867. Sarah died on February 4, 1864. They are both buried in the family cemetery.

Their second youngest child, Israel S. Masten, is our direct ancestor. Israel was born about 1827 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He married Lucinda P. Boltz about 1853. Lucinda was born July 31, 1821 in Pennsylvania and died on August 6, 1875 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Israel married Sarah Daugherty about 1878. Sarah was born about 1856 and died about 1893. Israel died about 1898. They are all three buried in the family cemetery.

Israel had a son named Ira. According to other genealogists researching the Masten/Maston line, some have two Iras in their pedigrees, one born about 1855 son of Israel and Lucinda, and one born about 1884, son of Israel and Lucinda's Ira. Some have the Ira born about 1855 as Hazel's father, others have the Ira born about 1884 as her father.

To clear things up, it is the Ira born about 1884 that is Hazel Masten Brancheck's  father. A 1920 census shows an Ira Masten and Maude  Glodfelty Masten with 3 children and Maude's widowed father Martin  living in the home. Hazel's parents names were Ira and Maude, but it cannot be the Ira born about 1855 as the  census shows Maude as 27 and Ira as 36 (born about 1883) . Clearly this is NOT Israel's son Ira.

So either there is a second  Ira that is "missing" as I have been unable to find anything out about him so far in regards to 
who he married, when he died, or names of his children. Or it is possible that the Ira born about 1855 died in infancy and that  Israel had a second son named Ira with his second wife.  I am not sure the Ira born about 1855 existed at all. I have not found him on any census. It is my belief that Israel's had only one Ira, Hazel's father, but he was born about 1884, the son of Israel and Sarah. 

Evan ap Stephens

Evan ap Stephens was born about 1692 in Cardigan, Wales. During this period in Wales surnames were not commonly used. People were referred to as so-and-so (their name) son of so-and-so (their father's name). Taking the son's name and adding the father's name onto it formed the given name and the surname. Depending on the father's name either "ap" or "ab" was used ("ab" and "ap" simply meaning "son of"), and a possessive "s" was added to the end of his name. If the father's name started with a vowel, "ab" was used. If the father's name started with a consonant, "ap" was used.  Based on this information, it can be assumed that Evan's father's name was probably Stephen. Evan ap Stephens means literally Evan son of Stephen.
Evan ap Stephens and his wife, Elizabeth, were married about 1714 in Wales. Elizabeth was born about 1694 in Wales. Evan and Elizabeth had a son, John, born about 1714 in Wales, and then shortly after they emigrated to New Britain, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Here they settled and had four more children between 1716 and 1726. It is not known when Evan or Elizabeth died, but John (and his son, also named John) were named heirs in Evan's will which was dated September 28, 1760. So Evan must have died in 1760 as wills were generally written on one's death bed during this time.

John Stephens married Sarah Dungan about 1738 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Sarah was born about 1718 in Bucks County. Between 1740 and 1756 they had a total of 9 children.
  • September 28, 1760 John (and his son John) mentioned as heirs in Evan ap Stephens will. 
  • June 15, 1773 John sold 100 acres of land, inherited from Evan's will in New Britain Township, to his son Isaiah which is recorded in Bucks County Sheriffs Deeds 1749-1776 #162.
  • About 1767 John sold all of his land and relocated to Washington Township in what was then Westmoreland County.
  • 1782 served in Revolutionary War under command of Captain Moore in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania with his sons John, Levi, and Seth. 
John and Sarah, and their children, were very prominent and successful. They owned large amounts of land and most of them are buried in the family cemetery.
  • Their first son, John, left Bucks County, Pennsylvania and settled in Washington Township in Westmoreland County in 1779. In 1782 he served in the Revolutionary War under command of Captain Moore in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. A 1790 Census for Fayette County, Pennsylvania listed 1 son and 3 daughters. He is believed to have moved to Kentucky about 1800. In 1806 he was bequeathed his father's clothes in his will Last Will and Testament.
  • Their third son, Seth, joined his family in Westmoreland County in 1781. In 1782 he served in the Revolutionary War under command of Captain Moore in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He is listed in Uninhabited Lands in the Pennsylvania Archives as owning 300 acres in Washington County. Possibly joined his brother, John, in moving to Kentucky.
  • Their fifth son, Isaiah, owned a great deal of land. On June 15, 1773 he purchased 100 acres from his father, John Stephens, in New Britain, Bucks County (Bucks Sheriffs Deeds 1749-1776 #162). Also in 1793 he purchased land from Christian Wireman of Bucks County situated on Ten Mile Creek. And he owned land near Uniontown in Fayette County as well. 
  • Their sixth son, Evans, owned land bordering on the land of his brother, Levi, called Stephens Green.
  • John and Sarah's daughters Rachel and Rebeccah married into the Craig family. Rebeccah remained in Bucks County, Pennsylvania  when her family moved to Washington Township in Westmoreland County. The Craigs were important in Bucks County history which is documented in the book The Craig family of Pennsylvania, 1708-1895, self published in 1921 by William Montgomery Clemens.
  • John and Sarah's daughter Mary married William Hogg, who was a deserter at Charleston, South Carolina, and sought a future in the great unknown west, namely Brownsville, Pennsylvania. He became very prominent and acquired a large fortune. He organized the Monongehela Bank in Brownsville. Henry Clay & Bishop Chase negotiated with him for 8,000 acres of land he owned to build Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio. 
John and Sarah's second son, Levi, is our direct ancestor. Levi was born July 14, 1744. At eighteen years of age he became a land surveyor to what is now Fayette County, taking land in pay for his services. As a result, he became the owner of a rather large estate. In 1767 Levi was employed by Charles Lukens as a Deputy Surveyor, and surveyed land in Newberry Township, York County, and Fayette County. He helped survey the Mason Dixon Line about 1770. In 1782 he served in the Revolutionary War under command of Captain Moore in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Levi married Elizabeth Brown, son of Nathaniel and Sarah Brown, of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth was born March 27, 1757. They were married on December 4, 1775 in Washington Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. They had 9 children between the years of 1782 and 1800, two of which died in infancy. Their third child is Sarah Stephens who married Levi Masten (see Maston section above). Sarah and Levi are Hazel Masten Brancheck's  great grandparents.

Information and Links
This site is a work in progress. New information and surnames will be added as discovery is made. Not all of the research here is complete. There are still many pieces of the puzzle that are missing, and research is done almost daily to fill in the gaps. Genealogy takes a great deal of time and hard work. It may take years to fill in the gaps and uncover new information pertinent to the ancestry of the Brancheck Family. 

If you have a connection to any of the families here, or have any information that you would like to share, please feel free to let me know. If you think I might have information that may help you I will be more than happy to share. It's always nice to find a missing piece of the puzzle and meet a distant relative at the same time.  

If you have a genealogy website related to any of the surnames here send me your URL and I will be happy to link your website.