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Genealogy family trees descending from 1700's Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Beecher Family History and Family Trees

33Overview

Beecher GenealogyThis genealogy website has the family trees of thousands of Beecher ancestors found in Pennsylvania church and census records from 1700 to 1940. The Beecher family includes Beicher, Biecher, Bicher, Beeker and Beacher spellings, all related by Y-DNA. We have created their family trees to include their descendants who migrated elsewhere, most often to North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and as far west as California. Before you explore our Beecher family trees, it is wise to read this page to orient yourself about the earliest known Beechers in Pennsylvania and Connecticut and which lines are proven to be related or unrelated by Y-DNA testing. (If you are a male Beecher, you can take a simple $49 saliva test by mail to learn which Beechers you are related to.)

News Oct. 2015! Y-DNA tests confirmed that the PA Beechers have DNA so identical to the Beekers who went to North Carolina in the late 1700s that the NC Beekers are likely the sons of the PA Beechers whose whereabouts were previously unknown. We are searching now for records to prove the connection. We will be adding complete trees of the NC Beekers to this site soon.

At page bottom we name the earliest known Beechers and their relationships but first let’s summarize the unrelated Beecher family lines that existed in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Since we began a Beecher Y-DNA project in 2003 to identify relationships between Beecher families, we have learned the following Beechers occur in Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania German Beechers

German-speaking immigrants arrived on ship in the 1700’s and 1800’s usually with one of two surnames that sound like Beecher: Becher or Bücher, with an umlaut above the U modifying the German pronunciation like an E sound. Some of these immigrants adopted a variant spelling including Beacher, Beicher, Biecher, or Bicher, the latter pronounced as Beecher by today’s Pennsylvanians.

  • Y-DNA tests have shown the majority of Beecher ancestors found in Pennsylvania from 1700 to 1900 are in fact one family related by Y-DNA, originating from German speaking immigrants who came to America on ships from Rotterdam prior to the Revolutionary War, some of whom are identified below on this page.  The original surname is recorded as Bücher in 1700’s records among those we have Y-DNA tested to date. The Y-DNA haplogroup type of this family is I1.
  • There are also a number of German-speaking colonial-era Becher immigrants who became Beechers in later generations. Y-DNA tests show this Beecher family is haplogroup type R1b1a2 and therefore unrelated to the majority of Beechers in Pennsylvania. The Becher line is a distinct family having different origins. Please visit our Becher genealogy page on this site to learn about them.
  • We have also tested all the many colonial-era Pennsylvania Bucher families (without the umlaut so they pronounce their name with an O sound as Booker, Bookur, or Booher) and none of those match the Y-DNA of the Büchers. Much more on this is below.
  • The Maryland Beechers who were in colonial America are the same family as the Pennsylvania lines.
  • The North Carolina Beekers living in Rowan and Davidson County are the same family as the Pennsylvania lines, likely the sons of the original PA immigrants. In PA records in the 1700s we see the Beechers sometimes recorded as Beeker due to the German pronunciation.
  • We do not yet know where the immigrants were born, but the Y-DNA discussion below suggests Scandinavia or the German sea coast. There is a map below showing the most likely areas where our Y-DNA is matching others.
  • Read about the known earliest ancestors in this Beecher line at the very bottom of this page.

If you are curious about the relationship between Bücher and Beecher surnames here is the story. In German, bücher means books and the word bücher years ago also referred to the crude paper used which was made from beech trees. A bücher was also an occupation — a woodsman who cut beech trees for paper making. Or so the story goes. (Unfortunately, because bücher means books it is quite difficult to Google anything on German sites when trying to find ancestors with surname Bucher.)

Connecticut Beechers in Pennsylvania

Many Beechers in America, particularly in New England, are descended from the famous abolitionist Beecher line that includes preacher Henry Ward Beecher and Harriett Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They originate from a John Beecher (1594-1637) who was among the English explorers who founded New Haven, Connecticut in 1637.

Our Beecher Y-DNA project proves the Connecticut Beechers are not related to the Pennsylvania Beechers discussed above, and we will explore the Y-DNA differences in the next section “Beecher Y-DNA Findings.”

A few of these New England Beechers migrated into Pennsylvania early on…

Samuel Beecher, born 1784 in New Haven, Connecticut, settled in Pike Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania and Beechers that county are descend from him.

John Orrin Beecher, b.1784 in Massachusetts, was among the early settlers in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, with five sons born there from 1808 to 1822. Descendants are found as far south as Schuylkill County and in western Pennsylvania in later years.

During the later 1800’s, a few Connecticut Beechers from other branches stray into the Philadelphia area or near Pittsburgh, Erie, and Allegheny County.

While genealogists have long assumed that John Beecher b.1594 was English, our Y-DNA testing has shown his ancestors were originally from Germany matching males having surname Bucher — read the Connecticut Beecher Y-DNA findings further down this page. While our online tree has the Connecticut Beechers who were in Pennsylvania before 1900, to research all the New England Beecher line in detail, you should consult the expert research of Jim Shaw and William H. Beecher IV who have the complete descendancy of John Beecher online here on Rootsweb’s free site.

  • Other Beechers in Pennsylvania

  • Irish Beechers in Pennsylvania. In the mid 1800’s a handful of immigrants arrive with surname Beecher with their census reports showing they were born in Ireland or Wales. They are found in small numbers employed in coal mining regions near Schuylkill county, the factories near Pittsburgh, and in Philadelphia. Our online family trees identify these as distinct families; we have no prove of connections to the Germany Beechers.
  • Italian Beechers in Pennsylvania. A Lawrence Beecher family immigrated from Italy in the 1800’s and lived in Philadelphia.
  • Later German Beechers in Pennsylvania. In the mid 1800’s a few Beecher or Bicher immigrants arrive whose census reports have a birthplace in Germany. No evidence has yet been found to tie any to the original Pennsylvania German Beecher families and none of these later immigrants descendants have been Y-DNA tested. They appear on this website in separate family trees until we know more.

 

123Beecher Y-DNA Findings

DNA findings constantly evolve as scientists learn more plus more people participate in DNA genealogy research. Please return to get updates. After reading the following summary, you can review the latest results of our Beecher Y-DNA research.

There is a vast difference in the Y-DNA of Pennsylvania German Beechers and Connecticut Beechers, so the lines were not related within thousands of years.

  • Pennsylvania German Beecher Y-DNA: While they were German-speaking, the Y-DNA found in most Pennsylvania Beechers is haplogroup I1 (in particular I-M253). I1 is predominantly found in areas along the Baltic and North Sea coasts where the Vikings conquered and spread their families. I1 is especially common today in Scandinavia – it reaches levels of 33% in Denmark and Sweden and is also found in England, Germany and the Netherlands, where it is about 15% of men. Some males with I1 migrated further inland over time so it is possible the Beecher ancestors came from further south in Germany, even though I1 isn’t as common there. Eventually, the origin place in Europe of the Pennsylvania German Beechers will be discovered when a Y-DNA match is found in a male living in Europe whose family line is known back to the 1700’s, or, our Y-DNA matches a male in the USA who immigrant arrived later in the 1800’s and his origin is known. As mentioned above, while most PA Beechers are one related family line with I1 Y-DNA, there is a second smaller line originating from Becher ancestors with R1b1a2 Y-DNA that is discussed on our Becher genealogy page.
  • Connecticut Beecher Y-DNA: Their haplogroup is type R1b (in particular R1b1a2). R1b is the most common Y-DNA haplogroup in Western Europe and therefore common to immigrants who founded America.  It occurs in about 40% of men in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Britain, and Holland and even higher in Spain and France. John Beecher b.1594 arrived with the English colonists who founded Connecticut. His Y-DNA matches German ancestors and suggests he shared a German-speaking male ancestor in the 1500’s, perhaps his father or grandfather.

Where Did the Pennsylvania German Beechers Immigrate From?

The following map shows the locations in Europe where the Y-DNA of Engel Bücher (tested by this website’s owner, Jonathan Beacher) matches others on 25-markers or more. The locations shown are where an earlier known ancestor was located, but so far none of these matched ancestors have a Beecher-like surname. Why? Because Y-DNA can show related males back hundreds and thousands of years, even before surnames came into use at the end of the middle ages, and before record keeping became common in the 1400’s and 1500’s. So although these “cousins” have different surnames, we did share a common male we’ll never be able to identify since there were no records kept. Someday, as more males are tested, our Y-DNA test will match others in Europe who do share our surname, and we can then identify where in Europe our family originated.

The map does help us theorize where our Bücher / Beecher etc. ancestors are more likely to be from. As expected, the highest concentrations of matches are in the areas where our I-1 Y-DNA was spread by the Vikings when they traveled to conquer the Baltic sea coasts. The yellow locations have 1-2 marker mutation differences, but the single red location shown in Denmark is the only perfect match with our Beecher Y-DNA. But that particular location is quite frustrating because the male who was tested has chosen to be unlike most participants in the Y-DNA tests and has made private the name of his ancestor as well as his own name and email contact info. We have no way to know who this perfect match in Fredricksburg, Denmark is.

Y-DNA 25-Marker Matches between 1700's Pennsylvania Ancestor and other Related European Ancestors with Different Surnames

Y-DNA 25-Marker Matches between 1700’s Pennsylvania Ancestor and other Related European Ancestors with Different Surnames

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Pennsylvania German Beecher Ancestors

From the 1960’s until  he died in 2004, Bruce Franklin Beacher Ph.D who lived in Adams County, Pennsylvania, visited countless churches, cemeteries, historic societies, and mailed, phoned and knocked on doors of any Beechers, Beachers, Biechers, and Beichers he could find in Pennsylvania. He discovered his earliest Beecher ancestor was Jacob Bicher b.1758 in Lancaster County who died in 1842 in Lebanon County, and upon contacting Bichers he found in the phone book, he learned they also pronounce their surname like Beecher. Upon finding Jacob Bicher’s marriage record in Stouchsburg, Berks County, it identified his father was Engel Bücher, that spelling also found for Jacob Bicher’s earliest church records.

In the 1970’s he began sharing research with Mary Lou Mariner, a descendant of John Beecher b.1757 who died in 1842 in Adams County, who collaborated with researcher Sharon Swope, another Beecher descendant, to find considerable info about another possibly related line of Beechers descending from a Henry Buecher d.1795.

Yet another Beecher line was being researched by Henry Jacoby Beecher (1922-2016) ( of York County who  traced his ancestry back to a John Beecher b.1759 in Lancaster County who died in 1819 in Berks County, signing his will as Johannes Bücher.

In 2004 no one was certain if these Beecher families were related or not, and no linking proof could be found.

To continue his Uncle Bruce Beacher’s genealogy research, in 2003 Jonathan Beacher (webmaster of this site) started a Y-DNA project at FamilyTreeDNA.com, hoping that brand-new technology might provide answers. Sadly, Bruce Beacher died in 2004 just before our first major Y-DNA findings were known, answering puzzles Bruce tried to solve for over 30 years. He was right: the York County Beechers were the same family as Bruce’s Bicher ancestors in Lancaster County.

In addition to testing Beecher relationships, we decided to also test Bucher surnames. Engel Bücher died in 1778 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, and living nearby was Hans Bucher (1715-1793) who immigrated in 1735, so it was expected Engel’s Y-DNA would match Hans. Beecher researchers in York and Adams counties had theorized they might be descended from Nicholas Bucher (1670-1765) who immigrated in 1727. There were many other Bucher immigrants to consider. Could any one of these be our connection?

DNA Research Findings about Pennsylvania Beechers

1. No Bucher Relatives in Pennsylvania — Bucher and Bücher Aren’t the Same: The Y-DNA testing found the Pennsylvania German Beechers are not related to any other Bucher ancestor line found in 1700’s Pennsylvania. This makes sense, considering that all other Bucher families pronounce their surnames as Booker or Bookur or Booher whereas the Beechers wrote their original surname as Bücher with the German umlaut (two dots) over the U which results in our different pronunciation. Further, no Bucher lines have the the haplogroup I-1 DNA of the Beechers. Our research identified 14 unrelated Bucher family lines in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia in the 1700’s. Knowing the Beechers are unrelated is very helpful so we are careful not to confuse ancestors in Bucher families within our Beecher trees. (This website contains trees of all the unrelated Bucher lines.)

2. Most Pennsylvanians with Surnames Beecher, Beicher, Biecher, Bicher, Beacher are Related.

Y-DNA tests show the following Beecher family lines were closely related by a common male ancestor in the 1600’s or 1700’s:

  • RELATED PENNSYLVANIA BEECHER FAMILIES. Click name to see their trees.
  • Engel Bücher d.1778 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County and immigrated in 1751 on the ship Neptune. All of his descendants are Beachers, Bichers, Beichers, Biechers, or Beechers.
  • John Beecher b.1759 in Lancaster County. When he died in 1819 he begins his will “I John Beecher” but signs it as Johannes Bücher. Most descendants are Beechers but a few adopt Biecher, Beicher and Beichert. With the help of Y-DNA tests and other evidence, we determine John is the son of Engel Bücher.
  • John Bicher b.1791 and brother Benjamin Bicher b.1797  in Lancaster County. All descendants are Bichers, pronounced like Beecher. They are grandsons of Engel Bücher. We found documentation to establish they are the sons of Peter Bicher.
  • Henry Buecher d.1795 in Littlestown, Adams County. He is likely the father of ohn Beecher b.1757 who died in Adams County in 1842 and perhaps the brother of Engel, and the Johan Heinrich Bücher who arrived in 1751 on the ship Neptune. All of his descendants use the Beecher surname.

Here’s an interactive map of where these ancestors died. You can move the map with your mouse or zoom in to see details.

Some mysteries to prove..

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Mystery 1: Arriving on the ship Neptune in 1751 with Johan Engel Bücher is Johan Henrich Bücher. He is likely the Henry Buecher who died in 1795 in Adams County who sired many Beecher descendants whom we know is very closely related by Y-DNA to Engel. If he immigrated with Engel he would be a brother or cousin, not his son, since their children are born in the same time frame: 1750’s and 1760’s. Engel Bucher and Henry Buecher were both shoemakers.

16Mystery 2: Solved! Those researching John Beecher b.1759 naturally believed he wasn’t related to the the descendants of Engel Bücher since they used surname Bicher, Biecher, and Beicher in the early 1800s. The Y-DNA testing shows they are indeed related and combined with other evidence one can confidently conclude that John Beecher is Engel’s son John who is named in Engel’s will in 1778.

Those are the mysteries concerning the Beechers who match Y-DNA, but we have many more Beechers to explore in colonial Pennsylvania…


Possible Elder Beecher Ancestors

Following are ancestors who should be part of our Pennsylvania Beecher family tree in the early 1700’s. If you can identify their fathers please email treeinfo@searchtrees.com so we can update this website.
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Peter Bicher (1730-1791)

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

View Peter Bicher’s Tree

A Peter Bicher arrived on the ship Edinburgh, 30 Sep 1754, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Peter Bicher is believed to be the Peter Beisser buried at East Cocalico Twp.: Muddy Creek Church Cemetery, Lancaster County, the same church attended by Engel Bücher’s families and where other related Bichers are buried. Peter was born 8 Apr 1730 and died 25 Nov 1791. We have found no other records for Peter. He is probably too old to be Engel’s son (Engel’s other children were born in the 1750’s.) He is more likely Engel’s brother.

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Conrad Bucher

Conrad Bucher – New Holland

New Holland, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Conrad Bucher attended Trinity Lutheran Church in New Holland with wife Anna nee Bostrunk, where their daughter Maria Margaretha is baptized 31 Mar 1751. Conrad might be related to the Bücher/Bicher families who appear in this same church, because he doesn’t appear in any family trees for the 5 Bucher families that existed in 1700’s Pennsylvania. We have found no other records for Conrad in Lancaster County, although he might this Conrad Bucher found in 1759 and later in Adams County, Pennsylvania.

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Johan Peter Bucher (1753-?)

Johan Peter Bucher b.1753 – Lancaster

Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Johan Peter Bucher born 26 Dec 1753 was baptized at First Reformed Church in Lancaster city, son of Christian and Susan Margaret Bucher. Christian and Peter have not been recorded in any family tree of the 5 Bucher families that existed in 1700’s Pennsylvania, so they might be Beecher ancestors.


Possible Beecher Descendants

Following are possible descendants who should tie into our family trees, but we cannot yet identify their fathers. We don’t have Y-DNA tests on their descendants yet to prove they are related, but it seems obvious they are. Can you connect them?

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William Beecher

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

View William Beecher’s Tree
In 1800 to 1804, a William Beecher and wife Maria baptize son Jacob and daughter Amelia Maria at First Reformed Church in Lancaster. William would likely be born before 1780.

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John Bicher

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

View John Bicher’s Tree
The marriage record of William M. Bicher (1829-1890) identifies his parents as a John Bicher of Lancaster county, PA who married Sarah E. Sands. This John Bicher would be born about 1810 or earlier and surely must be a grandson of Engel Bucher, but we have found no records for John in Pennsylvania. Son William was born in Lancaster county, married in Ohio and dies in Illinois.

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William Bicher

Lebanon County, Pennsylvania

View William Bicher’s Tree
Born about 1801 according to the 1850 census, William Bicher and wife Sarah are found living in Lebanon city.

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John Bicher

Lebanon County, Pennsylvania

View John Bicher’s Tree
Born about 1820 according to the 1850 census, John Bicher and wife Rebecca are living in Lebanon city.

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Jacob Beecher

Perry County, Pennsylvania

View Jacob Beecher’s Tree
Born about 1798 in Pennsylvania, Jacob Beecher and wife Lena are in Perry county in the 1860-70 census. They may be descendants of the Adams county Beechers since Perry is close.

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John Beecher

Adams County, Pennsylvania

View John Beecher’s Tree
When William Little dies in 1822, his will mentions his daughter Elizabeth is married to John Beecher. We have yet to determine who this John is, but his birth would likely be about 1805 or earlier.

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John Beecher

Adams County, Pennsylvania

View John Beecher’s Tree
Born in 1813 in Adams county, John appears in Menallen Township in 1850 census and married Elizabeth Guilden in 1850 in York Springs. We are presently unable to identify his father but certainly he descends from the Adams county Beechers. His descendants migrate to Altoona in Blair county.

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John Beecher and sons Peter and John

Berks County, Pennsylvania and Franklin County, Ohio

View Peter Beecher’s Tree
View John Beecher’s Tree
John Beecher and wife Elizabeth Sauda [Sanda] give birth near Reading, Pennsylvania to Peter Beecher b.1831 and John Beecher b.1843. The sons are in Franklin County, Ohio, in the 1860 census, in 1870 in Indiana where John dies, and Peter dies in Kansas. Peter marries Elizabeth Ridenour in Ohio, and the Ridenour and Beecher families settle as neighbors in Gahanna in Franklin County where Beecher Road and Ridenour Road are today named near their adjacent farms. It’s logical these Beechers are part of the tree of John Beecher b.1759 of Berks County since others in his family also move to Franklin County, Ohio.

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Jacob Beecher

Pennsylvania

View John Beecher’s Tree
Jacob Beecher marries Mary Ann VanDeventer in 1846 in Kane county, Illinois. His 1850 census states Jacob was born about 1828 in Pennsylvania (1860 census says 1818), Mary about 1824 in New York. His son William H. Beecher born 1849 returns to Pennsylvania by 1880 and lives his life in Franklin, Venango county. He may have chosen Venango because related Beechers were there. In Venango County, Pennsylvania: Her Pioneers and People we read a George D. Beecher served as a Civil War lieutenant in Company A of the 161st Regiment – 16th Cavalry. He would be born anytime prior to 1848, but we cannot find any record of George D. other than to confirm his Civil War service in the Venango company.

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Elizabeth Beicher

Lancaster, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

View Elizabeth Beicher Tree
A mysterious Elizabeth Beicher born in 1788 is found in a death record in Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio, when she dies 25 May 1868, with her birthplace specifically listed as Lancaster City, Pennsylvania. Given the birth date and location and surname spelling, she surely must be related to the families of immigrant Engel Bücher. Elizabeth is listed as a widow, so she married a Beicher, her maiden name we still don’t know, nor do we know which Beicher she married. Widows typically lived out their final years with a son or a daughter (whose surname following marriage obivously would not be Beicher) so finding her son or daughter in Sandusky County may reveal who their Beicher father was.

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John and Jacob Beacher

Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania

View John Beacher’s Tree
View Jacob Beacher’s Tree
Two brothers, John Beacher b.abt.1805 and Jacob Beacher b.abt.1815 are found in Springfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. They could be missing grandsons of Engel Bucher d.1778 who are not accounted for, or, missing descendants of Henry Buecher d.1795.