Family Traditions

Family Traditions

I have obtained or heard several stories about the Settlemyre/Zettlemoyer family. Some years ago I typed these and added my own observations based upon my research. Thanks to further research by a number of family members, I can provide those observations as they have been updated to reflect additional information.

Elaine Canipe, Rockingham, NC (my mother's line): Jacob Levi Settlemyer married a Killian and had these children: Cyrus, David, Harvey, Ira, and Bill. Jacob fought at the battle of New Orleans; took up a land grant at Rhodhiss, NC. The Settlemyers and Killians took the oath of allegiance at Philadelphia around 1732 and settled near Pittsburgh. The Killians came to NC in 1747, and the Settlemyers came around the same time. They lived near Newton, near the St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Ira and Bill stayed in Pittsburgh, where they were boilermakers.

My comments: The immigrant Johann Jacob Zettelmeyer, born 7 Dec 1706 in Dorf Erbach, Hesse, Germany, married Anna Margaretha Barbara Eichelbauer on 13 Aug 1726 in (Bad) König, Hesse, Germany. He had nine sons, some of whom may not have reached adulthood. Two of them, Jacob and Hans Adam, moved to NC in or shortly after 1778. Of these two, Jacob married Mary Bieber and they in turn named a son Jacob; he married Hannah Phillips in Lincoln Co NA (later Catawba Co) in 1821. Their children were Agnes, Cyrus, David, William, Alexander, Harvey, Myra, Eli, Sidney, Langdon and Nelson. This family lived in Burke and Caldwell Counties, NC. Hans Adam's family lived near Newton. Of that family, Martin married Mary Killian, who had been married twice before. I have found no evidence that any Settlemyer fought at the Battle of New Orleans. The only Settlemyer who arrived in America as early as indicated was Sebastian Settlemire, who arrived in 1738 and settled in Maryland. The immigrant Jacob's son Godfrey did move westward in Pennsylvania, finally settling in Cambria County. Pittsburgh is even further west, in Allegheny County.

Bessie Allen Porter's genealogy notes (the Oregon branch): Five Settlemire brothers came from Bavaria, Germany. Family has been in Berks and Bucks Counties, Pennsylvania, over 200 years. Adam, born in North Carolina, had two sons, David and George. Adam died in 1817 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

My comments: Jacob Zettelmeyer arrived at Philadelphia in 1751. According to his will that was written in December 1774 and probated the following month, he had five sons. However, birth records in Germany and Berks Co PA indicate as many as nine. I believe the five mentioned in his will are the brothers she mentioned. Adam Settlemire was the immigrant's grandson and he was probably born in PA. His father, Hans Adam, was born in 1755 in Berks Co PA and died in 1794 in Burke Co NC. 

Charles Settlemire, son of Ransom Pinkney Settlemire, who was the son of David Settlemire (born to Jacob Settlemire and Hannah Phillips): Three brothers and a sister came over from Germany. The name was spelled with a "Z", not an "S", and was preceded by "von". David (?) owned 200 slaves. David had a brother Langdon, a brother Harvey, and a brother Syrus.

My comments: The name may have begun with a "Z" – German records were not consistent in the spelling, just as early American records were not. Certainly the name was most often spelled with a "Z" in Pennsylvania. I have no information to substantiate the "von". Neither have I found any information to indicate that any Settlemire owned a large number of slaves. David did indeed have the brothers indicated, along with others. Charles' daughter Emmagene was not sure if the ancestor who owned slaves was a Settlemire. Some of the Hans Adam Settlemire branch in Catawba Co NC did own a few slaves.

Letter from an unknown source, dated 1936, to Eldorene Settlemier, read at the 1936 family reunion in Oregon, and sent to me by Mabel F. Sohrt of Salem, OR: Henry Settlemier (Sidney's grandfather), with 1 or 2 brothers and 2 or 3 first cousins, left Bavaria, Germany, in early manhood. Came to America and settled in PA and from there the families settled in Catawba Co NC – 3 families, Henry and two cousins, George and Harvey. The other 4 families left in covered wagons for the west. One or 2 of them settled in Ohio and Illinois and the rest, enticed by gold, headed for the Pacific. Henry Settlemier had 8 sons and 4 daughters all dead now except 1 son Monroe Settlemier, who lives on the border of Kansas and Oklahoma. Also Sidney L. Settlemier of Gaffney, SC, a grandson of Henry.

My comments: Henry Settlemire, a son of Martin Settlemire, the son of Hans Adam who moved to NC by 1790, was born about 1810 and died about 1890. The immigrant was his great-grandfather. Henry married Sarah S. Whitener (Widener) in 1835 in Lincoln Co NC. He was a farmer. One of his sons was Sidney, who was born in 1858 and died in Gaston Co NC on 6 Mar 1931. Sidney was listed in the 1900 Spartanburg Co SC census as a merchant. I have found that he had 8 sons and 4 daughters by his first wife, and I believe that he had 2 sons by a second wife. One son was named Monroe, and I located him in the 1880 census in Neosho Falls Twp, Woodson Co KS. His brother Noah was listed there in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. In 1880 Noah's brother, Frank B., was living in his home. The 1860 Catawba Co NC census listed his name as Franklin; he was living with his father, Henry Settlemyre.

The lure of the west existed, but it was gradual. Adam II (son of Hans Adam) moved from NC to Cape Girardeau, MO about 1805, where he died in 1817. (This is consistent with Bessie Allen Porter's account, above.) His two sons, David and George, moved to IL around 1830 and remained until the late 1840s, when they headed west, to Oregon by way of California. A John Settlemire and sons Jacob L. and John moved to AL by 1840 – John was the son of Jacob Settlemire and Mary Bieber. This family was in KY in 1850 and in IL in 1860. John's brother David (who married Ruth Thomas) moved to TN about 1833 and to MS by 1840. By 1870 the family was back in TN.

Also from Mabel Sohrt: About the turn of the century the Oregon Settlemiers had a visit from Sidney Settlemire of SC, son of a practicing physician. He spent the summer with the Martin Rhyne Settlemier family at Woodburn, OR on their hops farm. Mrs. Settlemier may have visited Sidney and his family in the early 1900s on a visit back east to see some of her own children then living on the east coast. Sidney and Martin were not closely related. My husband has somewhere an envelope with the corner card of the doctor Settlemire.

My comments: I suspect that the two accounts about a Sidney Settlemire involve the same person. Since Sidney came across the country to visit the Oregon family, it is logical that they would talk about him years later at a reunion. The idea in the first account that Henry came from Germany does not seem plausible to me. For this to be true, Henry would had to have been born about 1730-35. He could have had a son born about 1770-80, who could have had a son Sidney born about 1810-20. He would have probably been too old to travel to Oregon around 1900.

Greer Suttlemyre of Morganton, NC, who formerly worked in the NC Department of Archives and History, told me that the surname is Bavarian and is quite common there. He had met some people from Bavaria who told him this. He also heard the family say that they had come from Germany more recently than what I found – his grandfather Yancey Lotin Settlemire or his great-grandfather William Settlemire were said to have been the immigrants. 

My comments: There does not seem to be any recollection of the old country, so this late an arrival may be discounted. In addition, I have been able to trace this family from Jacob Settlemire and Mary Bieber

The mention of Bavaria is interesting. Early German church records at this point have the family in the Odenwald region of Hesse, which is in the southeastern tip of Hesse. The border adjoins Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which are only a few miles away. Three years after Johann Jacob Zettelmeyer arrived in America, Hans Jurg Seidelmaier and his wife and at least one child left Altenriet, which is in Baden-Württemberg, to come to America. Altenriet is south of Stuttgart and is 110 miles by road south of Erbach, where Johann Jacob was born. This is close enough to suggest that the two families may be related. Both areas are close enough to Bavaria that the family may have originated there, as well.

Mrs. Emmagene Settlemyre Massey of Chattanooga, TN researched the family for many years and shared some of her information with me prior to my writing the book on the family. She wrote to Peter Zettelmeyer in Germany and received this response (translated into English by T. Butow of Vanderbilt University):

Dear Mrs. Massey:

Thank you so much for your letter. I was very interested in what you told me about your investigations into your ancestry. I regret that I do not have time enough to embark on this subject thoroughly.

The house my family comes from is in Niederbachem near Bonn, Rheinland. The name Zettelmeyer originates in Bavaria and the Palatinate. In Munich is the Sedelmayer brrewery. Sedlmayer is the Bavarian spelling for Zettelmeyer. The brewery can be traced back to a Ritter (knight) von Sedlmayer. The German remark in our family chart - photoprint - which I enclosed has been marked red.

As you learn from this family chart, our investigations about our ancestry go back to the middle of the year 1700. The name Jakob, or Jakobus, Zettelmeyer which you mention in your letter is very frequent in our family.

I also enclosed a photoprint of a letter from Count E. Schenk von Stauffenberg. He is related on his mother's side to Zettelmeyer (Settelmeier) and found his ancestors in Pennsylvania and Oregon. His father's ancestors came from Germany. I enclosed a photoprint of his family tree.

Perhaps you would like to contact Mr. A. C. Zettlemoyer, Professor of Chemistry, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who should be able to provide you with further information.

I would be glad if my information could help you in your research, and remain

with friendly greetings

Very truly yours,

P. Zettelmeyer

P.S. In case while pursuing your investigations you should be able to find something about our family tree, I would appreciate your writing me about it.

Translation of text on photoprint:

The name Zettelmeyer originates in Bavaria. The well known Sedlmayer brewery (Ritter von Sedlmayer) is located in Munich.

The name Zettelmeyer (Sedlmayer) means "administrator of a settlement." The Bavarian spelling Sedlmayr is the more proper one.

The Zettlemeyer family which occurs in Liehsem ca. 1720 probably comes from the Rhine-Palatinate (Rheinpfalz) and then probably from the region of Strasburg. The oldest member of the Zettelmeyer family, widow Margareta, daughter of Margareta Zettelmeyer who was born in 1815 used to say that when she was young she was often told a French soldier by the name of Zettelmeyer stayed in Liehsem and married there. It is likely that this soldier was Josef Settelmayr about whose origin nothing could be found out. The origin of his brother Peter Settelmayr who is mentioned April 15, 1724, as a godfather in the baptism of one of his brother's children is obscure as well. Maria Hullen (Mrs. Jos. Settelmayer) seems to originate in Liehsem, although her baptism could not be found.

A respected citizen of Coblenz appears in the year of 1665. He was a pharmacist whose name was Johann Peter Sedelmair. A relationship could not be proven.

The house in Lower Bavaria from which the Zettelmeyer family originates has the number 103 on it. There almost beside it is the home of the Robens family. Here is probably where Jacob Settelmayer lived after his marriage with Margarete Robens. Above the old entrance door, in the lintel, the year 1780 is engraved.

In front of the house of the Robens family still stands a crucifix which was erected in the year 1716 by a member of that family.


On April 23, 1962, Mrs. Massey wrote to a Mr. Settlemyre about her recent results:

Dear Mr. Settlemyre,

I am enclosing some information I have been able to secure concerning our family name. When I wrote to Mr. Peter Zettelmeyer in Germany he was kind enough to send me photoprints of the information they have together with a photoprint of their descendants. He also referred me to Mr. A. C. Zettlemoyer, Professor of Chemistry at Lehigh University in Pa. and I had a reply from him this morning.

His name and our name is the same and he said that his father's name was Martin, and that his grandfather would have known much of this story and leading back to North Carolina and David but that unfortunately he was long since dead.

I rechecked the 1790 Census (before I was looking for Settlemire) and found in Berks Co., Pa., a Martin Zettelmeyer living there at that time with 6-sons and 3-daughters. The only other similar name in the 1790 Census was the Jacob and Adam Suttlemire in Burke Co., Morgan Dist., N.C.

So far, I believe we can say that we have verified the von, the Z, and the location in Germany.

The Count that Mr. Peter Zettelmeyer refers to is a descendant of George William born 1820 in Berks Co. and died in the year 1897 in Pa. This branch went to Oregon and settled and spelled their name Settelmeier. The Count's grandfather married "the beautiful widow Sophia Settelmeier Pendleton", according to his letter.

 A cousin of Sophia's, a Mrs. Gladys Settelmeier Turley of Oregon, made a trip to Germany to try to find out something about the original family.

Thank you so very much for the information you sent me. Perhaps some day we will be able to tie all this information together and have a complete family history.

Best regards to you and your family.


Mrs. John Massey

My comments: This letter is consistent with much family tradition in that it indicates Bavaria as the origin of the family, along with the Palatinate. I am not certain how to understand Count E. Schenk von Stauffenberg - this could be a name in its entirety or it could be Count E. Schenk from Stauffenberg. There are two places named Stauffenberg in my Euro-Atlas for Germany. One is located a bit east of Kassel in the region known as Hessen-Kassel. The other is a short distance north of Giessen, which is about 25-30 miles north of Frankfort am Main. Both of these locations are fairly close to Erbach and are both in the state of Hessen. I could not locate a Niederbachem, but did find Niederbacheim which is southeast of Koblenz. Nor could I locate Liehsem, which sounds more French that German.

I doubt that we can really give a specific meaning to the surname. In some cases this is possible - Zimmerman is German for carpenter, Schwartz means black, Schumacher is shoemaker, for example. But not every surname is capable of a neat explanation or translation.

I also doubt that the family is connected to a pharmacist from 1665. Some would like to claim that the name should have been "von Zettelmeyer" because, to them, that indicates royalty or knighthood. I also doubt that. What we do know now is that the first known member of the family, Hans Georg Zettelmeyer, was a tinker. Our ancestor Jacob, the immigrant, was a master shoemaker. Our ancestors were tradesmen, not nobility. Their decision to immigrate supports that idea. And the lives they led once in America further bears this out.

Some of the information appears to me to involve locating persons with the surname and hoping that there is a relationship. But good genealogy requires working backward from the known, one generation at the time, based upon proof.

One item that puzzles me is the reference in the second letter to Professor A. C. Zettlemoyer, because he said that his father was named Martin. Professor Zettlemoyer was born in Allentown PA to Frederick R. Zettlemoyer and Onetta Hartman Zettlemoyer, according to his obituary in 1991 in the Allentown Morning Call.



Last Updated Monday, April 16, 2001 09:39 AM .