Held Family Folder

Online Material

Published Sources

Several Helds married Riggles and their decendants are included in Leslie A. Riggles' "Reigel/Riggle Family History," Closson Press, Apollo, PA


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John David and Christina Held

Johann David and Christina Held were the original immigrants of our Held family. Johann David grew up in the Black Forest in Mönsheim about 15 miles northwest of Stuttgart, Würtemberg. Christina, maiden name Held - a first cousin once removed, was raised in Aurich, about 5 miles away. They married in February 26, 1843, and were the parents of ten children: six born in Würtemberg, the last four born in Armstrong Co, Pennsylvania. In America Johann David was called John David or David John and Christina was called Christina Lydia.

The Würtemberg and Baden regions where the Held family came from is now part of Germany, but Germany did not exist at the time they lived there. The Held family had lived in the Aurich-Mönsheim area over 150 years. Previously this Held line lived in Sersheim, Würtemberg, about 10 miles from Mönsheim, where Johann David's GGgrandfather, Michael, had a family. Michael was born in 1679 in a small village in southern Baden called Biesingen, also in the Black Forrest. Biesingen is about 60 miles south of Mönsheim and about 10 miles from the Swiss border, where this Held family seemed to originate. In the mid 1500s there were several other Held families in Biesingen and the villages in the area: Oberbaldingen, Öfingen, and Sunthausen. The family trace seems to end here because there are no more records.

In the fall of 1856, Johann David Held and his family came to the United States of America for economic reasons They sailed on a three-masted bark called Genesee with 182 adults and 14 infants from Antwerp to New York. The Held family had first choice for space on the ship because they had the largest family. It took forty-four days to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Outside of New York harbor the ship stuck a sandbar at Little Egg Harbor. The first tugboat that went out to pull them off the sandbar asked too large a fee. They did not have enough money. After remaining on the sandbar four days the passengers pooled enough of their possessions to make up the difference. Then finding there was whiskey on board they would not work until they shared their drink. Finally the ship was pulled off the sandbar and landed safely at New York on November 29, 1856.

Two families of friends, Reichenbachs and Blyholders, had immigrated before them. The Reichenbach family had settled on a farm in Cherry Run. After arriving at Leechburg by train two of the older boys walked to Cherry Run to tell the Reichenbachs their friends had arrived and were waiting at the Leechburg train station. They went with the horses and wagon to meet their friends, took them home with them and gave them temporary shelter and food. The Held family moved to Manor Township. In 1862, they moved to a log cabin on a 75 acre farm in Burrell Township. The only lights in the cabin were candles.

John David was a certified tailor by trade and brought his own sewing machine packed in a trunk of clothes on the boat from Germany. At that time to be certified in tailoring, one had to make a suit of clothes for a stranger without measuring him. If the suit fit perfectly he was given certification. The first suit John David made in Pennsylvania was for their pastor at St. Michael's Luthern Church at Brick Church, PA. He charged fifteen dollars for the suit. Frederick walked to the manse to deliver the suit.

Speaking only German, the Held family found it difficult to converse with English-speaking neighbors. The children learned English quickly and helped their parents. John David relied on his son Frederick to translate conversations while he measured men for suits. They walked to Greensburg to get orders and deliver suits. None of his sons cared to learn the tailoring trade.

Frederick at age thirteen led a cow from Cherry Run to Mosgrove, a distance of seventeen miles. The cow was a wedding gift from John David to his son, George. As he was passing the Kittanning railroad station someone called to Frederick it had just come over the telegraph that President Lincoln had been shot.

Their children grew older and went to find work. George moved to Kittanning to work. Regina married Joseph Frantz and moved to Kittanning, also. Jacob farmed a large farm at Kelly Station. Frederick built a house on the next farm. Louisa married Samuel Kunkle and moved to the Shay area. Hiram worked in the Apollo steel mill. Mary Ann was a dwarf and stayed at home.

John David died in 1882 and was buried beside his two children in St. Michael's Luthern Church Cemetery at Brick Church, Armstrong County, PA. Nineteen years later Christina Lydia died and was buried beside him. Mary Ann went to live with her niece Bretha Swank. They were brave and courageous pioneers.

From The Frederick Held Family Tree 1983, by Lois Jean Altman Rupert. [with changes and additions made based on research by Fred H. Held]

Frederick Christian and Susannah Held

Frederick Christian Held and Susannah Amanda Lessig were married in Leechburg, Pennsylvania on August 8, 1878, by Rev. Francis Trout Hoover, a Luthern minister. Susannah was the daughter of Mary Magdalene Allshouse and Joseph born June 25, 1853.

Susannah's mother died when she was born. She was raised by Grandmother Riggle, grandmother of Susie Edna Riggle Held, wife of John Held. When her father remarried Susannah went to work for Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong. Three brothers, Ab, George, and Frank, and one sister, Mary Ann, completed her family. Mary Ann married Daniel Wilcox. They had two sons: David and Leb and two daughters: Elsie and Ophra.

Frederick and Susannah had ten children and gave most of them Biblical names. Frederick was a farmer all his working years. He had a huckster route, bought and traded, took farm products to market at Cochran Mills. He told a story about how a woman on his route put a rock of salt inside her roll of butter to make it weigh heavier. The next time he passed her house to buy butter he cut the butter roll in half to show her he knew how she had tricked him. Needless to say, he didn't stop there again. He didn't have red hair for nothing.

Every fall Frederick went to Kittanning by horse and buggy to get fabrics and shoes for the children plus a gallon of whiskey for medicinal purposes during the winter. One time on the way home he met a friend. It was customary to offer a drink, if any was in his possession. He did this and the friend drank so much Frederick worried all night that the friend might not have arrived home safely. He was much relieved when he saw the friend the next day.

In the spring after the sheep were shorn, Susannah washed, dried, dyed, and spun yarn from the fleeces. She knitted socks, mittens, and scarves from this yarn for the family. When she had accumulated enough colored yarns, a woman with a loom came to the house to weave blankets and rugs for her.

In Sept., 1901, Frederick and his son Clarence traveled by train to Buffalo, N.Y. to view President McKinley when he was shot.

The children all reached adulthood and moved to various places to live and work. Bertha married and settled on a farm in Little Germany, Armstrong County. John went to the Leechburg Steel Mill. He was janitor of Leechburg Lutheran Church for many years. Also, he learned the paper hanging and painting trade. Clarence worked in the Youngstown Steel Mill but lived in Struthers, Ohio. He loved to play the organ. Harriet learned the seamstress trade, married and moved to a farm near Rockville, Pa. Lydia mastered the millinery trade and enjoyed playing the organ. She married and moved to Cochran Mills, Pa. Elsie learned to be a seamstress. She married and moved to Struthers, Ohio, where her husband Wilson worked in the Youngstown Steel Mill.

Daniel mastered the plastering trade and was Postmaster of North Apollo, Pa. He plastered the present North Apollo Fire Hall near his residence. Emma graduated from the Elderton Academy. Her father as a member sf the Burrell Township Elementary School Board, gave the only teaching position available in that township to another applicant. Without work near home Emma went to Vandergrift to work in journalism. Mahala worked at home until she married the local blacksmith. Later as an employee of the Peoples Gas Co., her husband Frank was sent to Ligioner, PA., to work as a driller in the deepest gas well in the world at that time. Twelve years later they moved back to the Elderton area. Mahala had art & craft talent and took time to paint beautiful pictures after she was age forty-five and painted til age 90. All the girls did beautiful quilting. Fred went to Portland, Oregon, bought a property and grew mint.

In 1928, Frederick and Susannah celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Albert Riggle's barn, which was cleaned and scrubbed for the occasion. A barn was the largest available building at that time which could accommodate a large group for a day's picnics. Five of the children celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries; the other five were married forty some years each.

At the age of 71 Frederick and Susannah sold their farm and moved near Lydia at Cochran Mills. When the Crooked Creek Dam was built they had to leave the house because the valley would be flooded. They moved to North Apollo near Daniel. In Aug. 1946, they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. On January 13, 1947, Susannah died at the age of 94 and was buried in St. Michael's Lutheran Church Cemetery at Brick Church, Pa.

Frederick took turns living with his children. Each year on July 27 his family gathered wherever he was to help him celebrate his birthday. In 1955 he celebrated his 103rd birthday at Elsie's home in Struthers, Ohio. On Sept. 30th, he died and was buried beside Susannah.

From The Frederick Held Family Tree 1983, by Lois Jean Altman Rupert.

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