Beeker Family History and Family Trees
Y-DNA testing has proven that the Beeker families found in Rowan and Davidson counties in North Carolina in the late 1700s are closely related to a Beecher family that immigrated into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1751. These Pennsylvania German Beechers were often recorded as Beeker or Beaker in early Pennsylvania census records, suggesting the German pronunciation of their original German surname was hard for English census takers to understand and spell. The wills of the elders indicate the original German surname was Bücher, the umlaut — two dots — above the u resulting in the pronunciation like Beecher or Beeker. A Maryland Beecher branch of this family is also related by Y-DNA. DNA shows the PA/MD Beechers are not related to the Connecticut Beechers (Henry Ward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe) although they also descend from German Bücher ancestors.
It was not known that a branch of the family was in North Carolina as Beeker until a Beeker male took a Y-DNA test and matched 10 Beecher males who were earlier tested. The Y-DNA Beecher and Beeker males match on 67 markers, with a 0 genetic distance, indicating there is a 98.96% chance they shared their common male Beecher/Beeker/Bücher ancestor within 8 generations, since the mid 1700s.
From PA to NC
The NC Beekers are thought to have migrated from Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley to North Carolina. The eldest known North Carolina Beeker, Henry who died in 1837, married Barbara Garner and she is reported to have been born in Pennsylvania of her parents, Philip Garner (1740-1812) and Barbara Elizabeth Winkler (abt 1744- abt 1812). Many other settlers in Rowan county are proven to be Pennsylvanians.
The road from Pennsylvania to North Carolina through the Shenandoah Valley crosses areas in Virginia where we believe other Beecher/Beeker ancestors may be found.
A Philip Beaker appears on the 1785 tax list near Luray, Virginia, in today’s Page county, which then was part of Shenandoah county. There were 2 people in his household.
A David Beaker appeared in the 1789 tax list in the district of William Headley in Shenandoah county.
Nearby to the east, a John Beaker Jr. was listed in the 1790 tax list in Orange county.
Unfortunately, the Virginia censuses for 1790 and 1800 were destroyed when the British army burned Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812, so we cannot confirm Beakers in this area other than tax lists.
Also, Henry Beecher who died in 1795 in Littlestown, PA, who lived circa 1765 near Frederick, Maryland, had a son Frederick identified in a PA land deed in 1795 as living in Virginia. We believe he is the Frederick Beeker/Beeher who died in 1811 in Bototourt county, Virginia, to the south of the Shenandoah county Beakers. View more about Frederick.
Also living in Frederick, Maryland in the 1776 tax list compiled there was a William Beaker who was born about 1710. He could be the elder of all of the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina clans. View more about William Beaker. But is also possible that Henry Beeker of NC is the son of Henry Beecher d.1795 in PA, or Engel Bücher d.1778 in PA. Henry and Engel immigrated in 1751 in Philadelphia, arriving on the ship Neptune. Please do not link any as the father of Henry Beeker of NC until further research is done to find paper records to know for sure who his father is.
Our research will be aided by finding additional male Beekers and Beakers to take a simple DNA test (send your saliva sample by mail) to help pin down which Beecher male is the ancestor of the Beekers. If you have interest kindly use the contact link above to send a message. This is not the Ancestry DNA test, which doesn’t trace the father’s father’s father’s line, but rather a special Y-DNA test given at FamilyTreeDNA.com in our Bucher/Beecher/Beeker project, so please send a message and we’ll send you the correct info.
Henry Beeker of North Carolina
Henry died at his home in between 10 Dec 1837 and Feb 1839 in Davidson County, North Carolina, which prior to 1822 was part of Rowan County. His original will is on file in the North Carolina Archives in Raleigh, and a transcription of it is in a will book file at the Davidson County courthouse, and also in his family tree on this website. Henry Beeker married Barbara Garner.
We have begun adding a complete Beeker family tree with all of Henry Beeker’s descendants to this website, which should be complete by the end of 2016. Please send any trees you have to add so we can locate all current descendants. View Henry Beeker’s Family Tree.
We also have the following interactive map which shows areas where the Beekers owned land in today’s Davidson county, which until 1822 was part of Rowan county.