John Adam Mohler was born March 9, 1810 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. There is some information indicating his parents, John Adam and Anney Irich Mohler, were also born in this beautiful part of western Pennsylvania. John, Sr. was a Lutheran minister and a farmer.
Sometime before 1820, John Adam, Sr. and his family migrated to Ashland County, Ohio. Though it was quite a long journey, history tells us that his family was among many Pennsylvanians who moved to Ashland County in north central Ohio. This was an area of lakes and forests on the dividing bridge, or watershed, between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Eventually, farming became the primary industry. John, Sr. was both a minister and a farmer, and a land record dated December 1, 1830 showed he purchased 80 acres of land, transacted April 24, 1820.
As fate would have it, there was another family living in Ashland County which had migrated to Ohio from Pennsylvania whose daughter met and married John Adam Mohler, Jr. The young woman was Lydia Ann Shambaugh and her parents were John Philip and Catherine Walter Shambaugh. She was born May 28, 1816 in Union County, Pennsylvania.
We do not know when or where they met, but after a courtship, John and Lydia married on June 9, 1835 in Richland County, Ohio which is adjacent to Ashland County.
By the time the 1850 United States Federal Census was taken, John and Lydia lived in Hanover, Ashland County, Ohio. In the fifteen years since their marriage, their family had grown by leaps and bounds. As unbelievable as it may seem, they had nine children – Julia Ann (14), Levi (13), Phoebe (12), William Henry (10), George Washington (8), Catherine Clara (6), Jeremiah (4), Mary Ann (2) and John Wesley (1). John Adam was farming.
Sometime between 1850 and 1860, the Mohler family moved to Spring Grove, Warren County in eastern Illinois. I do not know the reasons for their migration but traveling from north central Ohio would not have been an easy journey, particularly with such a large family. By the time they reached Warren County, the population had begun to grow, two reasons being the arrival of the railroad and the proximity to the Mississippi River. Evidently, John Adam was drawn to this area seeking a better life for his family.
The 1860 United States Federal Census reveals the family had continued to grow during the intervening years. Children listed on this census are: Levi (21), William Henry (19), George Washington (17), Jeremiah (13), John Wesley (12), Thomas Jefferson (7), Franklin Pierce (5), Isaac Newton (4), Oliver Cromwell (9/12), Catherine (16) and Mary Ann (13). Both Julia Ann and Phoebe had married. We know that John and Lydia had one other son, Martin Luther, who died shortly after his birth in 1857. Levi’s wife, Martha, and daughter, Roda, are also included in this census record.
No death record or burial location has been found for Lydia, but I think she died sometime between 1860 and 1866, probably in Warren County, Illinois. She would have been in her late 40’s and had given birth to fourteen children.
The lives of John Mohler and his children must have been greatly disrupted by Lydia’s death, and at the same time this occurred, the country became engaged in war. The American Civil War broke out in 1861, and Illinois was one of the twenty-five states that was a part of the Union. Like other families in this place and time, the Mohler’s experienced the agonies of this tragic war. Though John was not in the military, his son Levi was enlisted.
No major battles were fought in Illinois, but it was a primary source of troops for the Union army and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Also, any history buff knows about the two Illinois men who became prominent in the politics and the army during this time – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.
Following Lydia’s death, John Adam Mohler married Ida Jane Bellis Voorhees, in about 1866. Like John, she was widowed and had two sons, James and George, and a daughter, Sadie (Sallie) Voorhees. Between 1867 and 1876, they had three more children, Alexander Hamilton, Ida May Bell and Charles Edwin. Though I was not able to find them on the 1870 census, when the 1880 United States Federal Census was taken Oliver, Sadie, Alexander, Ida and Edwin were listed. The family was located in Logan, Peoria County, Illinois.
John Adam Mohler died October 25, 1894 at home in Hamiliton County, Illinois and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, Montebello Township, Hancock, Illinois. His obituary was found in Carthage Gazette, November 2, 1894.
A Good Man Gone
John Adam Mohler, native of Washington County, PA, and the son of a Lutheran minister, died near Hamilton, Ill., on last Thursday, aged 84 years, 7 months and 16 days. He has lived in Ashland Co., Ohio, Warren, Fulton, and Peoria counties, Ill. The last six years, he lived near Hamilton. He was married in 1835 to Miss Lydia Shambaugh by whom he had 14 children. One died in infancy, another at the battle of Fort Donnelson, and two daughters after their marriage. Again he was married to Mrs. Ida J. Voorhees, of Peoria county, who bore him 3 children, all of whom, with their mother, are living. Thus he has 13 children living.
In early life he united with the Lutheran church: later with the U.V. and finally, with the Congregational church of Hamilton.
His remains were interred in the Oakwood cemetery on Sabbath morning, funeral services being conducted by Revs. J.H. Rose, of Hamilton, and H.M. Brewer, of this city.
John Adam’s obituary mentions he had lived near Hamilton, Illinois the last six years of his life. Both a land plat and the Petition for Letters of Administration by his widow Ida Mohler following his death show he owned land in near Hamilton, Hancock County, Illinois.
The death of a son in the Battle of Fort Donelson near the Tennessee/Kentucky border February 11-16, 1862 is also mentioned in John’s obituary. I have not been able to determine which of his sons this might have been. Levi was enlisted in the military during the Civil War, but I found information of his death June 14, 1909.
In my research of John Adam and Lydia Shambaugh Mohler, two things greatly impressed me – the number of children and the names of their sons. In their twenty-four years of marriage, John and Lydia had fourteen children. John and his second wife, Ida, had three more children. With the exception of Martin Luther, all lived to adulthood. Naming their sons after historical figures appears a phenomenon and begs the questions – why did they do it and how much did they know about these men in history?
When reading accounts of lives of pioneers during 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, I am always astounded by their abilities to confront many difficult circumstances of life – physical, emotional and cultural. Their pioneering spirit drove them to move west in crude wagons over rough roadways. They bought and farmed land to establish a means of livelihood, settling where they could set up households in largely undeveloped areas. Like others, John and Lydia carried out the daily tasks of feeding and clothing their families while participating in community life with other dauntless folks.
I am particularly impressed by the strength of women during those times. Many, like Lydia and Ida, gave birth to numbers of children when medical attention was primitive by today’s standards. The manner in which they attended to the daily, and sometimes tedious, tasks of cooking, sewing, and nurturing of their families in very hard, rustic conditions is unbelievable to us. Paying tribute to these courageous souls seems the right thing to do.
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.
Ancestry.com. U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
Carthage Gazette, obituary for John Adam Mohler, November 2, 1894.
Hancock County, Illinois, Petition for Letters of Administration, Estate of John A. Mohler, 24 Nov 1894.
“Historical Sketch of Ashland County,” http://www.ashlandcounty.org/commissioners/files/history.pdf
Richland County, marriage record, Richland County Clerk’s Office, Mansfield, Ohio.
“Warren County Illinois History,” http://www.warrencountyil.com/communities/kirkwood/history