Introduction: Mauer

by
Larry Pearce
1/9/17

Few surnames on this website have as many variations and spellings as our “Mauer” moniker, and so a controversy exists as to its European area of origin: Germanic or the British Isles. Since our ancestors’ eventual destination was Quemahoning Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, home of many German-speaking settlers, it usually assumed that the spelling has always been “Mauer,” “Maurer,” or “Mowry,” but the Stoystown area also had English speakers, some of whom spelled their name “Moore.” Although at this time we doubt that the English Landed Gentry ancestry of our Catherine Mauer, George and Thomas Moore, as found on Ancestry.com we have laid on the table this possibility along with the many spellings, the various meanings, and some of the interesting stories associated with our Somerset County Mauer family.

Mauer is the Austro-German word for “wall.” Add an “r,” making it “Maurer,” the more popular surname, and the meaning becomes, “one who builds the wall” or “bricklayer.” Central Europe has many towns named Mauer, including one near Vienna. Perhaps the two most famous uses of the name are, “Mauer 1,” the fossilized jawbone of a prehistoric human found near one of the towns, and “Berliner Mauer” of course, the Berlin Wall. A search for famous persons with the name turned up mostly politicians and athletes. However, mention the name “Maurer” today in West-Central Pennsylvania and folks will immediately say, “Oh, you mean B.J. Maurer Ford Sales near Boswell.” Yes, the dealership is owned and operated by descendants of our early Quemahoning Township Mauer family. Going back generations, this Mauer insitution is a household name around here. I’m presently and proudly driving a Ford Ranger pick-up truck purchased from them.

Other apparent forms of the name come from the British Isles, as we said above, and in American colonial times could have been pronounced similarly, thus causing confusion. The surname “Moore” means “a marsh” or “people living near such open land,” and in Ireland may be spelled “O’More.” In Scotland, the slightly different “Muir” means “great” or “stately and noble.” Other forms of the name have interesting French and Scandanavian origins.

The early church and government records of Quemahoning Township contain many of the following of what we believe are variations of our surname Mauer: Maurer, Maurus, Mohren, Mower, Mowry, Mourer, Moyer, Mayer, Muir, Moore, More, and others. While we aren’t certain of the connection between my wife Susan’s 4Xgreat-grandmother Catherine Mauer (1775-1861) and what certain family trees at Ancestry.com say are Catherine’s father, George Moore (1743-1813), and his father, Thomas Moore (1698-1762), much of the documentation makes sense. As with all of our families, research is ongoing. Catherine Mauer Sartorius, her husband William, Jr., and his parents appear to have been charter members of the German Reformed Lutheran Church in Stoystown and are all buried in the Old Union Cemetery to the east of town. The family was involved in making moonshine during the Whiskey Rebellion or “Insurrection” of 1792, but apparently somehow avoided being fined by the new Federal government under General George Washington. Other extended family, including Mauers (Michael Moury), were caught and fined. For more information, see the Introduction: Sartorius or Catherine and William’s Vitals page.

Aside from being a farming neighbor, the person and relationship of Michael Mowry to our Zimmermans remains a mystery. In the Orphan’s Court of Somerset County, beginning in 1827, a brother or cousin to our Michael Zimmerman (1798-1878), Jacob (b.1795?), had died intestate (without a will). Apparently his wife Elizabeth (Mauer-sp?) had died earlier, leaving the couple’s eight children and their farm, called “Mansion Place,” in limbo. The court awarded Mowry guardian of the kids and our Michael Zimmerman’s son John the land. John had to pay the heirs for the property, as was the custom. Was Michael Mowry Elizabeth’s sister and the children’s uncle? Very likely, but what a task to raise that many youngsters. One of the great insights into carefully reading the edict of the court was to see the names of Zimmerman’s neighbors in describing the boundaries of the property in question: Miller, Kuntz, Horner, and of course several Zimmermans.

In conclusion, coming to America has usually meant losing all or part of ones original ethnic identity through the immigration process. Sometimes the European surname is anglicized at the naturalization desk, and more often than not, the stories from the homeland become lost, blurred, or forgotten across the centuries. Both situations are unfortunate, but perhaps on the bright side, they leave us family historians and genealogist lots of work to do, however frustrating it can be at times. So check back from time to time and read about what we uncover. By all means, if you have something to add or a question, please respond below.

Sources:

“Mauer.” Wikipedia.com. 20 Dec. 2016

“Mauer.” BehindTheName.com. 3 Jan. 2017 http://surnames.behindthename.com/names/usage/german/2

“Moore.” Wikipedia.com. 3 Jan. 2017

“Moore.” Surnamedb.com. 3 Jan. 2017 http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Moore

Various Public Member Family Trees & other documents. Ancestry.com

Last revised: 3/14/18

5 Responses to Introduction: Mauer

  1. James says:

    I thought I’d just make mention of a fact probably already known to you. There was a significant number of individuals named Maurer who eventually took on the surname Mason. I have an ancestor who was named Martin Mason, who died near Roanoke, Virginia, in 1794. I had never given a thought to the possibility that this family was of PA German extraction, until we found an inventory of Martin’s estate that had been published online. Among his possessions were listed a “folio Bible in Dutch”, and then “sundry small books in Dutch”. We still don’t know much about Martin’s origin, other than the probability that he was born in PA, and that the surname had originally been Maurer.

    • admin says:

      James,
      We have e-mailed each other directly, but this is a formality for my webpage. Very interesting info. My daughter lives near Roanoke, and I know from the Farmers’ Market there that many old order Mennonite/Amish frequent that. I’ll be on the lookout for Mauers. Please stay in touch!
      Larry

      • James says:

        Hey Larry, I think we should touch base again. I was just perusing GEDmatch, and I see your Catherine Maurer in a GEDCOM for one of my matches. If that GEDCOM is from you, it looks like we are related. Take care!

        • admin says:

          James, I’m not sure how GEDcom works. I even had my kids helping me download an app that is compatible with MAC. Unfortunately, Ancestry.com needs a tree before they can link your DNA to anything/anyone, and then you have to pay to join to get the “hints.” Meanwhile, they have your stuff forever. Also, others have to join to read the messages you send to their encoded accounts! Anyway, I use a simple MSWord format with my WordPress site, and I put our extensive tree in by manually – whew! I’ll write to you directly to clear this up. Thanks for staying in touch,
          Larry

          • admin says:

            Larry,
            It is appearing as if there might have been several Maurer brothers living in Somerset County in the mid-18th century. Among these was a Philip, and a Jacob. I am also beginning to suspect that my Martin Mason was their brother.

            Going by information I have been looking at online (FamilySearch, in particular), there is indication that the father of Philip and Jacob was an immigrant named George Maurer (or Hans Jürg Maurer). This George possibly lived for an extended period in Somerset County, then later moved to the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. I do not know who the father of your Catherine Mauer/Maurer was, but I strongly suspect that this George Mason was her grandfather. I am even wondering if Jacob was possibly your Catherine’s father. Again, ALL of this is theoretical.

            To throw in some other circumstantial evidence, my Martin Mason had two children who eventually settled in Harrison County, Indiana, near Corydon, which at the time was Indiana’s capital. One of those children was Elizabeth, who had married a man named Peter Seacat (or Seekatz) in Virginia. Peter and Elizabeth appear to have moved directly from Virginia to Indiana.

            After Martin Mason’s death, in 1794, in VA, his widow married a man named Joseph Harper. They then moved to Casey County, Kentucky, along with Martin Mason’s younger children. One of those children, Martin Mason, Jr., married in Kentucky, and then also moved to Harrison County, Indiana, in the 18-teens, presumably to join his elder sister and brother-in-law.

            In addition to this, Jacob Maurer (mentioned above) had a son named George Mowery, who also appears to have moved into the same area of Harrison County, at about the same time. Again, IF I am correct, this George Mowery would have been a first cousin to Martin Mason, Jr., and Elizabeth Mason Seacat. I strongly suspect that none of this was coincidental. People at this time often moved from place to place, accompanied by extended family members.

            Going back to Philip, on FamilySearch, there is a person who lists his wife as having been an Anna Barbara Kieffer. This stood out to me, because there is evidence that Kieffer was the original surname of my Cooper family.

            There are more details I could throw in here, but I will leave you with all of this for the moment.

            I want to do what I can to try to figure out who your Catherine’s parents were, but like I said, I am half-way expecting Jacob to have been her father, and therefore George Mowery to have been her brother. All theory at this stage.
            Again, take care!
            James

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