The Begats

Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.  My Aunt Betsy, my Dad’s sister, has had a passion for this study for as long as I can remember.  She has compiled tomes on the major branches of our family.  Today, I would like to explore just one ancestral line, the lineage of my last name, Axe.

Betsy’s research work has been extensive.  She has traced our shared heritage back to soldiers that fought in the American Revolution.  She has also written several books on our family’s history.  Compared to our other ancestral lines, the Axe family name does not go back that far.

My Axe name appears out of the mists of time in the form of my Great-great-great-grandfather Peter Axe, who was born in Pennsylvania about 1815.  In that same year, our fourth President, James Madison, was just wrapping up the War of 1812.  In 1838 he married Mary Leah Smith.  They subsequently moved to York, Pennsylvania, where they apparently lived the rest of their lives.  They had five children. 

The last record of Margaret, their second child and oldest daughter, is of her marriage to a man named Bell.  I’m guessing that she moved from out of York.  Of the remaining four children, William, Emanuel and Peter A. lived into their seventies and Susana survived into her eighties.  Not bad for the nineteenth century.  Like their parents, the remaining four children were eventually buried in York.  Only the youngest, Peter A. was born in York, in 1858.

This would have put the Axe family in York, in the summer of 1863.  Thirty-two miles away that summer the Battle of Gettysburg was fought.  By then the elder Peter would have been about forty-eight; William, twenty-two and Emanuel, nineteen.  I have no information on what if any involvement any members of my family had in the Civil War.  It seems unlikely that this three day battle could have escaped the notice of the neighboring citizens of York.

The senior Peter died in 1883 and Mary Leah died in 1905.  My Great-great-grandfather Emanuel Axe (1843-1916) married Lydia Dellinger (1847-1931) in 1866. Unlike his father, Peter, I could not find any online records of Emanuel and Lydia’s children.  From Betsy’s records they had at least one son, Peter Emanuel Axe (1873-1945), my Great- grandfather.

Peter Emanuel married Ida May Rockey, also of York, in 1900.  They had three children, Earl Jacob, my Grandfather, Helen Emma and Esther May, my Great-aunts.  Earl married Bertha May Evans and they had two children, my Aunt Betsy and my Father, John.  Of all these Axes it is only the last four that I knew/know and came to love, Poppa and Nannie, Aunt Betsy and Dad.

1 thought on “The Begats

  1. Between my Mom, Uncle Curt (paternal side) and Cousin Bob (maternal side), I have a very interesting and huge database of the Carlson-Shields geneaolgy, which Cousin Bob is publishing on

    It’s highly amusing to find via this site that I am distantly related to people like Bob Hope (via a many-greats Grandmother Starbuck), Richard Nixon, Lyndon Baines Johnson, James Dean (yes, the actor), Jimmy Carter, Clement Moore, Willa Cather, “Wild Bill” Hickock, O. Henry, Sam Bass, Emmett Littleton Ashford (major league baseball umpire), Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, John Browning (founder of the gun manufacturer), Nathaniel Hawthorne, several First Ladies, G.H.W. Bush (and therefore – ugh – G. W. Bush), Judy Garland, Mae West, Helen Adams Keller (yes, HER), John, F. Kennedy…. ad nauseum…

    What it really comes down to is, we are all at SOME POINT related to SOMEONE ELSE that someone might have heard of!

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