Our connection with the Niswender family is through Mary (Niswender) Albright, wife of Ferdinand Wilhelm Albright and mother of Hazel Ethel (Albright) Phillips.
Johann Conrad and Anna Eva (Goetz) Neuschwander (which appears to be the original spelling of the family name) and their six children came from Alsace-Lorraine, voyaging from the port of Rotterdam on the ship Hamilton and arriving in Philadelphia in October of 1767. They came amongst several tens of thousands other Germans emigrating (Alsace-Lorraine was German territory at that time) to Pennsylvania in response to a letter extolling the freedoms of America that had been circulated in Europe by Roger Penn. The Neuschwanders settled in southeastern Pennsylvania in what was Berk and Lancaster counties and is now Schuylkill County. Unlike many of their countrymen, the Neuschwanders were not indentured servants; they paid their own way and were literate.
Johann Conrad and Anna Eva were married in Alsace-Lorraine in 1741 and their six children were born there between 1741 and 1753; Maria Elizabeth, Maria Barbara, Johann Peter, Christina Elizabetha, Johann Martin and Johann Conrad. Their youngest son, our ancestor, Johann Conrad Neuschwander may have served in the Lancaster County Militia during or shortly after the Revolutionary War as his name is listed on their roles in 1781.
Many descendants of the original Neuschwander family moved westward, initially into Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, and eventually into Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Colorado and California. As they did so the spelling of the family name changed many times. At one time or another, it has been spelled Nischwander, Nieswander, Nicewanter, Nicewinner, Neiswender, Nicewinter, Niswander, Nighswander, Nisewander, Newschwender and Niswender. The currently extant branches of the family now spell their name Neiswender, Nieswender, Niswender and Niswander.
Johann Conrad Neuschwander married Sybelle Muller in 1778 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. They had five children between 1779 and 1791; Peter, Michael, Barbara, Barbara (I believe the first Barbara died in infancy), and George.
Prior to the coming of the railroads, one of the major land routes from western Pennsylvania to the Great Lakes went through Wayne County, Ohio. By 1830, at least one of Johann Conrad’s children, Peter, and possibly George as well, and their families, had moved westward and settled in West Salem which was part of Congress Township in Wayne County. They and most of their children were farmers.
Ohio had been opened to settlers only since 1787, and the first settlement in Wayne County did not occur until 1808. Ohio was still largely forest even in the 1820’s, with bears, wolves and Indians still present. Farming was mostly subsistence, a few acres of wheat and corn for each farm supplemented by the hunting of wild game, until the first railroad to Wayne County was completed in 1852. Johnny Appleseed (Jonathan Chapman) planted a number of orchards in the western part of Congress Township, and apples and orchards were commonplace on many farms throughout Wayne County.
Peter Neuschwander had married Hannah Repp and George Neuschwander had married Mary Keim, both of whom were from German families that had migrated to Pennsylvania along with the Neuschwanders. The Neuschwenders, Repps and Keims intermarried a number of times in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s and some of the Repps and Keims also moved west into Wayne County at the same time as the Neuschwanders.
Peter and Hannah had ten children between 1807 and 1823; Maria, Daniel, Jacob, Esther, David, Solomon, William, Joseph, Henry and Abraham. Henry was born in 1821 in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania and appears to have settled initially in Wayne County. He married Nancy Rasor in 1842, and had five children; Benjamin, Henry, Wilson, Lucy and Franklin. Nancy died in 1852, and by 1853 Henry had married Salinda Protsman. Henry and Salinda had six children; Sarah, George, Catherine, Mary, Charles and Idella.
It is possible that Henry and Nancy lived for a while in Illinois, as their son Henry’s birthplace has been given as Illinois. Henry, Salinda and their family, however, are listed in Wayne County in the 1860 Census. By the 1870 Census, however, Henry and his family had moved to Monroe County, Michigan and were still living there in the 1880 Census.
Wilson Niswender died in 1876, leaving a wife, Sabina, and three children. She married John Kline a few years later and had four more children.
Benjamin joined the Union Army during the Civil War by enlisting in Company E, 120th Infantry Regiment Ohio on October 14, 1862. He died July 4, 1863 in Memphis, TN, where he is buried.
Lucy married Bina Harbrook, but died shortly thereafter, although when and where this occurred is unclear. Catherine died in infancy. So far it has has not been possible to trace Sarah. The 1880 Census shows a 2-year old granddaughter, Barb(ara?) Jane, living with Henry and his family, but there is no indication whose child she was.
Ferdinand Albright who was living and working as a farm hand in Lasalle Township, likely a short distance from where the Niswenders lived, met and married Mary Niswender in 1881.
Henry died in 1886, and is buried in Monroe County. Of his children, Henry W. stayed in Monroe county, married Mary Jane Walker and had five children between 1874 and 1889; Albert, Mary, Ella, Earl and Roy. George E. also stayed in Monroe County, where he married Evaline Avery and had two children in 1882 and 1885; Charles and Viola. Charles D. moved back to Ohio, where he married Susan Mathias and had seven children between 1888 and 1901; Irwin, Elizabeth, Gralis, Gertrude, William, George and Harold. Idella, married Charles Holtz and moved to Detroit, and had one child in 1891; Lloyd. Mary also moved to Detroit to live with her husband, Ferdinand, and had four children between 1883 and 1894; Gertrude, Alfred, Otto and Hazel.
Of Mary’s and Ferdinand’s children, Gertrude married Ed Ulber and had one child, Edna. Alfred married Grace Soulier, and had two children; Alvin and Audrey. Otto married Mathilda Knab, and had two children; Sylvia and Norbert. Hazel married Wesley Phillips, and had four children; Kempster (Bill), Mary Jane, Marilyn and Wesley (Skip).
Charles D. Niswender died in 1919. After Mary died in 1930, Ferdinand married Mary’s sister-in-law and Charles’ widow, Susan Mathias. Ferdinand died in 1946, and Susan moved back to Ohio, where she died in 1964.