Who Was Albrecht Deibler’s Wife?

Posted By BrokenClaw on August 17, 2011

Albrecht Deibler was a known historical figure. He was also one of my 5th great-grandfathers. He was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, around 1726. Later he settled in what is now upper Dauphin County and established a homestead he called Horn Pipe. The Land Grant map of 1773 shows his 336-acre estate. During the Revolutionary War, he became an officer in the militia with Col James Burd’s 4th Battalion of Lancaster Associators. In historical records, he is known as Capt Albright Deibler, an anglicized version of his German name. In August, 1776, the 4th Battalion notoriously fought at the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn), the first major conflict after the United States had declared its independence. The published history of the battalion reports that Deibler went missing at that time and “never returned home.” Presumably, he was killed in action, or died shortly thereafter in captivity.

The genealogy of the Deiblers in Dauphin County has never been fully elucidated. Official documents of the day reveal several Deibler families, including those of Albrecht, Michael, and Mathias, but it’s likely that there were individuals who shared the same first name, which makes it difficult to separate brothers and sons and nephews.

For genealogists researching Albrecht Deibler’s descendants, one of the most oft-quoted sources is William Henry Egle’s 1887 publication, Notes and Queries, in which we find the following entry:

Albrecht Deibler, of Upper Paxtang, d. about 1773, leaving a wife, Catharine, who in 1776 was the wife of Benjamin Buffington…

Egle then lists the following minor children: Daniel, Christiana, Maria Magdalena, John George (my line of descent), Catharine, and Susanna. The dates given by Egle have subsequently been adjusted, but court records confirm that Deibler’s widow married Buffington, a widower himself with several children. Catharine and Benjamin went on to have five more children of their own.

The question is, who was Albrecht Deibler’s wife? In the historical records she is identified simply as Catharine or Catharina. There are no known documents for her marriage to Deibler which reveal her maiden name. Nevertheless, she is often identified online as Anna Catharina Schupp, daughter of John George Schupp, Jr., and Anna Catharina Matter of Lancaster County. The church records from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Holland clearly establish that Schupp’s eldest daughter, Catharina, was born in December 1752. Accordingly, Albrecht Deibler would have been about 40 years old and Catharine about 14 when they married in 1767. As far as I can tell, this marriage date is just a calculated estimate, based on the age of Albrecht’s children. However, others claim to be their descendants through children born as early as 1763. You can also find online genealogies which state that Buffington married the daughter of Albrecht Deibler. Still other researchers claim that Anna Catharina Schupp was never married to Deibler or Buffington, that she married a Nicholas Redsecker in 1772 and lived and died in Cumberland County.

I have never been able to find the origin of Catharine’s identity as Catharina Schupp, either on RootsWeb or Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org or general web searches. There are plenty of user-submitted entries, but none of them cite a source. It seems to be one of those things that just gets perpetuated from one genealogy database to another, and when it reaches critical mass, it’s accepted as fact.

In my search for Catharine, I came across a well-documented Shope family genealogy (no longer online), which includes Anna Catharina, daughter of John George Schupp, Jr., of New Holland. The author, William Kenzie Shope, writes that the Schupp family eventually moved to the same area of upper Dauphin County. Unfortunately, he makes no mention of the younger Catharina as an adult. There is other evidence that John George Schupp III, Catharina’s brother, married Anna Maria Deibler, who was likely a niece of Albrecht Deibler. It’s possible that some researcher, knowing that Albrecht’s wife was named Catharine, and that the Schupps had a daughter named Catharine, concluded that they were the same person. Incidentally, the author of the Shope genealogy contests most online genealogies with regard to John George Schupp’s wife. He believes that she was not Catharina Matter, but rather Catharina Meder from a different family.

Nevertheless, Catharine Deibler may well have been Anna Catharina Schupp. Perhaps there is an unpublished document that is the source of this contention. It may seem unlikely from today’s perspective, but it is possible that she married at 14 and bore six children by the time she was 24. The fact that she had five more children with Buffington supports the idea that she was much younger than both of her husbands. However, none of the source documents can confirm Catharine’s age during her marriage to Deibler or to Buffington (census records at that time did not record specific ages), and there is no existing gravestone to compare her date of birth with Catharina Schupp. One also has to consider the possibility that Catharine was not Albrecht’s first wife. I don’t think any of the court documents referring to the disposition of his orphaned children preclude the idea that some of them may have had a different mother.

Another revelation of the Shope author from above is that a gravestone exists at the old Salem Church cemetery in upper Dauphin with the inscription, “Cadrina Schupp 1817″. That date is significant because 29 April 1817 is the date most often associated with the death of Catharine Deibler Buffington. However, most researchers believe that Catharine Buffington would have been buried with her husband at the family cemetery of John Peter Hoffman, another family that intermarried with the Deiblers. The Cadrina Schupp stone may just be coincidental (such as infant daughter of a Schupp family), or it may be the bit of data that holds it all together.

UPDATE 2013: After extensive research into the court records of Dauphin County, other researchers have concluded that Albrecht Deibler’s widow was indeed Anna Catharine Shupp. Nevertheless, questions still remain about the age of Albrecht, his widow, and his children.

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