THE THRONEBURGS ( Tranbergs) OF WILKES COUNTY 1799-1819
If you are a Genealogist or a family historian you know that at times looking through old records can be a tedious and boring task at times. The only time it gets exciting is when you discover facts about the family you are researching. I started my quest on my Throneburg family in 2001 but between 2006 and 2010 I had many of these exciting discoveries. The DNA tests sponsored by a committee of family members called the “Tranberg Group” was the most exciting1.
The Tranberg family journey from Germany to Philadelphia and to North Carolina will be described in this article. The surnames the Tranberg family now have will be revealed. Their migration patterns in North Carolina and to other States will be explained. Their interrelationships with other Wilkes County families will be discussed. What is so interesting about a family that lived in Wilkes County for only twenty years? What is it about this family that will interest researchers and family historians studying Wilkes County.
Readers looking for information about Wilkes County families of Day, Fyffe, Johnson, Hays, Hull, Lenderman, Marlowe, Shook, Witherspoon, York and others will find the interrelationships between the Throneburgs and other families enlightening by what has been uncovered by our Tranberg Group. Many of these surnamed families still exist in Wilkes County2. Several of the Tranberg’s family sons and daughters married, had children there and started their vocations in Wilkes County3. This period was a time when the Throneburgs (Tranbergs) were a major factor in the Community of Wilkes County.
Background information on the Throneburg family must first be explained before these interelationships can be can be explored. If any readers would like to share or seek information from the Tranberg Group contact information is listed at the end of this article4.
Family Background and DNA Evidence
My Throneburg family was a difficult family to genealogically pin down because of the thirty or so misspellings of their real surname in Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania. This misspelling went on from 1744 through 1850 and beyond. Misspellings helped create more than 17 different surnames that are tightly related branches of the family. The surnamed families that still exist today are Droneburg, Dronbarger, Dronberger, Dronebarger, Droneberger, Dronenberg, Dronenburg, Drumbarger , Thornberg, Thornburg, Thornburgh, Thornberry, Thornsberry, Throneberry, Thronebury, and Throneburg. The Throneburg and Thornburg families are the only two major branches of the family left in North Carolina5.
After years of researching6 and not locating any records to prove the relationship between all of the different branches of the family I turned to other sources. I sought others who might be related and be able to help. Using the internet I met two individuals , Vance Thornsberry, and Jerry Thornburg via www.rootsweb.com genealogy message board . Based on our own research, family given names and a genealogist’s search7 that Vance had ordered for his family we felt certain we were related. We decided to turn to DNA technology to prove our contention. The DNA tests proved to be a real brick wall smasher.
We started the Tranberg Project at www.familytreedna.com. Assigning to the project the various surnames by which the family was known in the early 1800’s. As the results came in not only did we match but we matched as a tightly related family. This meant that within 4-8 generations ago our ancestors were brothers8. After the first three matches we had nine more surnamed males join us the next few years in the testing and it did not take us long to put together the pieces . The Freiderich Ambrosius Tranberg family ended up being a very large family with many branches that had some very different spellings. They are now located all over USA but started in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Some of those surnamed individuals ended up in Wilkes County, NC with one family staying for a number of years8.
Readers will ask themselves how the surname Tranberg ended up with so many different spellings. There are four explanations that can help readers understand this fact. The surname Tranberg could be spelled as Thranberg because the “h” in German language is a silent” h”. Thus the surname can be spelled Thranberg or Tranberg and is pronounced the same. Based on German dialects the pronounciation of the surname Thranberg can be Thronberg or Thornberg. Based also on German dialects the last part of the surname “berg” could be pronounced as a soft erg which would have sounded like “ bery”. The German language also pronounces several letters the same. D and T is the example for our family. Surnames beginning with D or T spoken in certain German dialects sound like each other9. Many of our families spoke German in their homes into the 1850’s and therefore had pronunciation problems communicating in English to American recordkeepers10.
From Pennsylvania to North Carolina
Frederick David Tranberg was born in York County, Pennsylvania 17 April 174911. His parents were Freiderich Ambrosius Tranberg and Eva Marie Wittmer. 12 Frederich Ambrosius Tranberg was our original immigrant. He came over on the ship “ The Winter Galley” 13 and arrived at the Port of Philadelphia on September 5, 173814. A probable brother was on that ship also, Johannes Daniel Tranberg. Johannes Daniel Tranberg never appeared in American records after he arrived at the Port of Philadelphia. Frederick David Tranberg grew up in the Conewago Valley area of the German Community in York County, Pennsylvania15. Between 1755 and 1762 his father passed away and Frederick David ( known as David ) and his brother Ludwig ( known as Lewis) came to North Carolina probably down the Old Wagon Trail along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Another brother, Jacob stayed in Pennsylvania with his mother who remarried16. David and Lewis likely traveled with their oldest sister Christina Barbara Tranberg Pipher/ Beaver17. Christina and her husband Peter Paul Pipher/Beaver settled in Rowan County, North Carolina. Christina passed away there on December 21, 180118. David Tranberg settled in Guilford County in the Stinking Quarter Creek area19. Lewis settled in Orange County just across the Guilford/Orange County border from his brother20. David was known by several of the surnames mentioned above while living in Guilford County. Lewis appeared to be known as Lewis Dronebarger/Tronberg/Thornbarger while living in Orange County.
David Throneburg of Wilkes County
David Tranberg was known as David Throneburg(h) in Wilkes County. David was a Blacksmith in Guilford County21 and likely brought this skill to Wilkes County. David bought and sold land in Chatham, Guilford, Orange and Randolph Counties between 1774 and 1799. County Lines in this era were still a little gray and some of the properties may have been very near each other in the corner of Chatham,Randolph, Guilford and Orange Counties. The invasion by Great Britain into Virginia and its proximity to Guilford County might have brought David and Lewis Tranberg to Wilkes County around 1799. Guilford and Orange County deeds show David and Lewis selling their land after moving to Wilkes between 1799 and 181622. They lived in Military Districts as both David and Lewis were found in a Wilkes County 1805 Tax List in Captain Martin’s district23. David Tranberg was known as David Throneburg(h) in many North Carolina County Records. His name was spelled a few different ways in Land Records and the census but in many Wilkes County records and especially Court Records it was spelled Throneburg(h).
David Throneburg’s venture into land deals in Wilkes County started with Daniel Hull on September 4, 1799.
This land purchase indicated that David bought 450 acres from Daniel Hull abutting the west side of Henry York’s property. There are several relationships that came about from this land deal. These relationships are explained in the section dealing with David’s friends in Wilkes County24.
This land purchase indicated that David also bought 150 acres from Daniel Hull at the foot of Brushy Mountain. This made David a total of six hundred acres of land. The Brushy Mountains are an isolated spur off of the Blue Ridge mountain range and whether or not this 150 acres abutted David’s land or was a separate piece of property is not known. There is a mountain named Brushy Mountain near the area where I believe David’s farm was located. David also purchased 153 acres of land from his brother Lewis Throneburg Sr. on March 24, 1804 on the south side of Fishing Creek25. He then sold this land to Samuel Fyffe on December 26, 180426. How this land fit into David’s farm is unknown. It appears this piece of property was adjoining or very near David’s farm.
David sold his land in Wilkes County in pieces in between 1818 and 182427. The largest piece of land was sold in 1824. It was listed as being on the waters of Brier Creek. Brier Creek flows to the Yadkin River and is close to Fishing Creek which also flows to the Yadkin River. In 1824 David sold this 220 acres to Abraham Hendrix. Prior to this 1824 sale he had sold 40 acres to Samuel Fyffe, 40 acres to Joseph Day, 78 acres to Jacob Throneburg ( nephew) and 240 acres to George Witherspoon. He had 600 acres of land in Wilkes County and these add up to a little over 600. The sale of his land and the purchase of land in Lincoln County appears to timeline David’s move to Lincoln County in late 1819. David and son Daniel are shown living side by side in the 1820 Lincoln County, NC Federal Census.
In 1803 David Throneburgh became a Justice of the Peace of Wilkes County28. This allowed him to serve the German Community of Wilkes County, most of which lived around David.
Lewis Throneburg Sr. and Jr. in Wilkes County
Not only was David Throneburg Sr. in Wilkes County during this time period , his brother Lewis Sr. and sons Lewis and Jacob also were part of its history. It is difficult to tell whether or not it is Lewis Tranberg Sr. or Junior buying land in Wilkes County except for one record which lists Lewis Throneburgh Jr. as being granted 100 acres on Hunting Creek29. Several land records appear to be the same 100 acres . A Lewis Thronberry Jr. appears to purchase land on both side of Sam’s branch of Fishing Creek adjacent to the Widow Hiatt and James Reynolds. This would have been near David Throneburg. A Lewis Throneberry , Thronbery entered a total of 450 acres of land warrants in Wilkes County. This does not mean he purchased all of this land but means he applied to purchase.
There is a Lewis Throneburgh in the 1810 Wilkes County Census30 but unless there was an error in the age column this is the younger Lewis Throneburgh Jr. The 1810 Wilkes County Census shows Lewis Throneburgh living next to Henry York. This has to be the Lewis Tronebarger listed in the 1820 Lincoln County Census and the same Lewis Throneburg listed in the 1830 Lincoln County Census31. He is the right age to have been born in 177932. Lewis Tranberg Jr. was a Weaver by trade as stated in “Pioneers of Wilkes County” .
Lewis Sr. and Jr. did not stay long in Wilkes County. Lewis Sr. is found in the 1820 Lincoln County Census as Lewis Thronbarger. He is living next to a D. Thronbarger and a Jno Thronbarger. These are two of his sons, David Thornburg was born in 1788 and Jonathan Thornberry/Thornsberry was born in ~ 1798. Lewis Sr.’s estate records of 1824 indicate a David Thornburg as the Administrator of the Estate. Jonathan and a Lewis are listed in the estate records. None of Frederick David Throneburg Sr. sons or daughters are listed in Lewis Sr’s Estate records. David Thornburg lived on Long Creek in the Gaston County area. Jonathan moved to Missouri and ended up in Dunklin County.
Jacob Throneburg whom we believe was Lewis Tranberg Sr’s son born around 1785 lived in Wilkes County and bought land from his Uncle David Throneburg. Jacob married Joanna Shew, daughter of Phillip Shew, on 27 October 1807. Jacob lived in Wilkes until at least 1820 and is found in the 1810 and 1820 Wilkes County Census. Evidently Joanna Shew died as Jacob married Mary Magdalene Summitt on 25 July 1813, daughter of Franz Sammett/Summit in Lincoln County33. The marriage bond between Mary Magdalene “ Dolly “ Summit and Jacob was signed Jacob Tranberg. This was also the case for a marriage bond of another of Lewis Sr’s sons, John Thornsberry. John’s marriage bond to Nancy Justice was signed Johannes Tranberg. Lewis Tranberg Sr. purchased land for his son Jacob on 16 July 1816 in Lincoln County34.
Jacob was a potter which means he worked with clay to make dishes etc. This means he had to live near water and clay soil. His name is also mentioned in “ Pioneers if Wilkes County”. After passing through Lincoln for a short period of time Jacob is then found in the Wayne County, Missouri 1830 Federal Census and was known as Jacob Thornberry.
He is listed on the 1836 tax list in Lincoln County with a son Jacob Tronbarger Jr. The land in Lincoln County was located on the waters of Little Long Creek. Lewis Sr., his son David and Jacob all lived in the Long Creek and Little Long Creek area. Their surname became Thornburg in Lincoln County and some of the Thornburg family still have property on Long Creek today.
One of the more interesting stories is about a grandson of David Throneburg, son of George Miller Throneburg, Jonathan S. Throneburg/Thornburg. This story comes out of Catawba County in the mid 1860’s . Jonathan S. Throneburg married Harriet Cecilia Frazier. Together they had seven children. Around 1865-1866 Jonathan had a relationship with Emily Gant Witherspoon. Emily Gant married David Witherspoon 12 July 1857 in Catawba County. What conditions caused this relationship are unknown but the proof lies in the obituary of Avery Thornburg whose half brother was listed as Lee Witherspoon. David Witherspoon connects back to the George Witherspoon who purchased David’s property in Wilkes County. David was not a son but a nephew of George Witherspoon of Wilkes County. David Witherspoon died in the Civil War of disease on 19 October 1862. This left Emily alone with a family to raise. Evidently Jonathan took care of her and her family and had four children with her, Avery Thornburg, Adolphus Thornburg, William Pinkney Thornburg and Fannie Etta Thornburg. Jonathan was first known as Jonathan Throneburg but he and his children changed that to Thornburg as the years went by. Jonathan and Emily’s children went by their father’s surname of Thornburg. The Avery Thornburg family came to me in 2008 seeking answers as to whom they descended. One of my friends from the internet, Rita Ackerman who was a Throneberry family researcher came up with the obituary.
Lutheran Religious Connections
A general description of where David’s farm was located was made by his friend Lutheran Minister Reverend Paulus Henkel. Rev. Henkel wrote in one of his notebooks that David’s farm was one mile south of the Yadkin River. Other land records have shown that David lived on or near Fishing Creek. Likely between Brier and Fishing Creek. This gives an approximate location of his farm. The farm was east of Wilkesboro and according to Rev. Henkel was amongst six German families.
Reverend David Henkel, son of Reverend Paulus Henkel ministered to many in Wilkes County between 1814 and 1819. Family links with The Tranberg families and the proof is in David Henkel’s Diary 1812 -1830. 35 The Tranbergs are listed as Tronbergs and Tronebergs in no less than 9 of the Diary pages. David Thronberg is listed at least twice in the Diary. A statement of Reverend David Henke’ls on the page from 1819 confirms his father preached at the “Tronberg’s” home as stated in one of Reverend Paulus Henkels letters. This proves that David still lived in Wilkes County in 1819 and then moved to Lincoln County by 1820. David Tranberg is also mentioned in Letter 27 of Reverend Paulus Henkel confirming the spelling of his surname as Tranberg.
Relationships of David and Lewis Throneburgs to Other Families of Wilkes County
There are several relationships that came about from David’s land deal with Daniel Hull and the neighbors he obtained from this purchase. David’s great granddaughter Elizabeth Throneburg married Daniel Hull’s grandson, Daniel Hull, in Vigo County, Indiana on January 15, 1863. David Throneburg Sr.’s son Daniel Throneburg Sr. married Henry York’s daughter Elizabeth York on June 18, 1814. 35
Leonard York, son of Henry York, born in Wilkes County, went to Fayette Township, Vigo County, Indiana. Leonard York married Susannah Catharine Lenderman, daughter of John Henry Lenderman. Daniel’s Marriage Bond was witnessed by Henry Lenderman ( John Henry was known as Henry ) a friend of David Throneburg Sr. in Wilkes County . John Henry Lenderman moved to Vigo County, Indiana about the same time that David’s son Frederick David Throneburg Jr. started his farm in Indiana. Henry Lenderman’s daughter Elizabeth Lenderman married David Throneburg Sr’s son Frederick David Throneburg Jr. in Vigo County, Indiana on 11 September 1831 proving that Henry Lenderman was in Vigo County by then. Henry Lenderman’s son Leonard also moved to Indiana at the same time before the 1850 Census. Henry Lenderman married Phillip Shew’s daughter Eva Anna Shew. Phillip Shew Sr’s son Phillip Shew Jr. also moved to Indiana just a few miles north of the rest of the family in Vermillion County. One of David’s closest friends was Leonard Lenderman. His wife was Annie Fyffe sister to Samuel Fyffe. One interesting note here is that the Fyffes were from Frederick County, Maryland where a large portion of Jacob Tranberg’s family eventually settled. The Lenderman cabin still stands in Wilkes County and is located in Parsonville. Directions to the Lenderman cabin and Lenderman graveyard can be found in the Wilkes County Heritage book Volume 2. Leonard looked after some land for the Shews after they moved to Indiana and wrote several letters to his brother John Henry Lenderman36 . The letters were sent from Lewis Forks which is Northwest of Wilkesboro. Lewis Fork Creek flows to the Yadkin River from the Blue Ridge Mountains between Stony Fork Creek and Reddies River.
Leonard Lenderman’s sister Margaret Lenderman born January 30, 1774 married Henry York on Jan 15 1789 in Randolph County. The Lenderman Letters posted publicly on the internet confirm many of the relationships listed here. Henry was quite a bit older than Margaret but this was common for a young woman to marry a man of means in that time period. Henry York was born in Pipe Creek, Maryland in 1732. This made him 58 years old when he married Margaret.
David Throneburg was a witness to Henry York’s will in 1817 and a witness to Andrew Shatterly’s will in 1817. David’s relationship to Andrew Shatterly and Joseph Day has yet to be explored but David had two more daughters of marrying age in the 1810 Wilkes County Census.
Lewis Throneburg Sr. and Lewis Throneburg Jr. of Wilkes County
No marriage records for Lewis Tranberg Sr. have yet to be found but Lewis Sr. did remarry a much younger woman before 182037. The 1820 Lincoln County Census has Lewis Sr. listed with a woman between 16 and 26 years of age and all of his daughters would have been gone from the household by then. Estate records show her name was Katie/Catharine.
Lewis Throneburg Jr. married a woman named Nancy Johnson. She may have been a daughter of William Johnson and Mary Parks who lived in Wilkes County. The proof of some type of relationship is in the Wilkes County Will of William Johnson. Lewis and Nancy are two of the heirs to this will. However, Nancy and Lewis did not receive an equal portion to the other heirs . The reason lies in the status of Nancy. A possible explanation is that a Nancy Hais/Hays first married William Johnson’s son Aaron Johnson. Lewis was a witness to their Marriage Bond. Estate papers clearly show Aaron has passed away and an equal portion given to him and his heirs38. Some of this may have gone to any children she might have had with Aaron. Thus the lesser portion assigned to her.
Samuel Fyffe married William and Mary Parks Johnson’s daughter Winifred Johnson.
One of Lewis Throneburg Jr’s sons George Thornburg Sr. returned to Wilkes County before 1850 and raised a family there39.
William Johnson was also the father of George Johnson of Wilkes County and Moses Johnson both of whom are witnesses to some of David Throneburg’s land records.
David Throneburg’s daughter Barbara Throneburgh was born in Wilkes County in 1800. She eventually married Fred Shook Jr in Lincoln County on 10 March 182540. Children of Fred and Barbara ended up in Wilkes County. There are many Shook families now living in Wilkes County.
George Thornburg Sr. of Wilkes County- Brushy Mountain Area
There are two George Tranberg’s found in Lincoln County. A George Throneburg and George Tronbarger. The George Tronbarger is found in North Carolina records on the 1836 Lincoln County Tax living next to Jacob Sr., Jacob Jr., and David Tronbarger. This is Lewis Tranberg Jr’s son George Thornburg Sr. All of Lewis Sr. and Lewis Jr’s sons in North Carolina eventually ended up with the surname of Thornburg. George Thornburg Sr. continued to live in Lincoln County at least through the 1840 Census. George has three sons in the 1840 Lincoln County Census. Lewis Jr’s wife Nancy Thornburg is found without Lewis in the 1840 Lincoln County Census. After 1840 George and his wives Elizabeth and Frances have quite a history in Wilkes County.
George Thornburg Sr. and his first wife Elizabeth Mulllis are in the Wilkes County 1850 Federal Census . George homesteaded a piece of land near or at the foot of Brushy Mountain. He must have moved back to Wilkes before 185041. George’s children are listed as being born in Wilkes in the 1850 Census which must be a mistake because he had three sons in the 1840 Lincoln County Census. It is possible the rest of them were born in Wilkes as they are under ten years old. George married Elizabeth Mullis around 1834. The children listed in the 1850 Wilkes County Census were William 15, Henry 14, Luis 11, George Jr. 9, Susan 7, and Nancy 4. Elizabeth passed away in 1878 and George married Francis Hays, daughter of Henry Horne Hays, a well known family from Wilkes County42. George’s son William Thornburg married Sarah Caroline Hicks who was several years older than him43. William was around 15 and Sarah Caroline Hicks was 19. Obviously William lied about his age because at their last place of residence where they were traced was Elk Creek, Grayson County, Virginia in the 1860 Census and William was listed as 25 and Sarah C. as 29. Henry Miles Thornburg first married Susan Orr and they had one son, James C. Thornburg born February 2, 1868. Susan Orr died in 1870 and Henry moved to Georgia. In Georgia he married Eliza Eugenia Cato. At a later date Henry’s brother George Jr. moved to Georgia. George’s son Francis T. Thornburg had a child with Disy Marlowe in Wilkes County. His name was Iredell Henry Thornburg. No proof of a marriage has ever surfaced but Disy’s descendants believe they were married. Francis apparently abandoned Disy and Iredell Henry and may have moved to Georgia.
George Jr. and Henry Miles joined the Confederate Army in Mecklenberg County. They joined Company B North Carolina Infantry. Two of their Uncles, Fields B. Thornburg and Samuel Lewis Thornburg also belonged to this Unit43.
George Sr. lived on in Wilkes until he passed away in the early 1900’s. George Thornburg Jr. lived in Wilkes County at least through 1880. He first married Frances Elizabeth Moore and at a later date married Levisha Lucy Hays. George Jr. moved to Georgia by 1900 and is found in the 1900 Telfair County, Georgia Census. As far as it is known until modern times the George Thornburg Sr. family was the last Thornburg branch to live in Wilkes County.