The Netherlands and Germany in the early 1500s were referred to as being Dutch.  Both the Netherlands and parts of Germany were part of the Holy Roman Empire.  It appears the family of brothers Benjamin, Johann Christof and Johann Michael Heiskell (Heuschel) fled the Rhine Region wars in Germany to a new life across the German/Netherlands border to Rotterdam Netherlands, where the brothers were born and from which they then migrated to Pennsylvania in America.  Regardless of which country they resided in, they were "Dutch" at that point in time.


Your 5th GGfather Johann "Christopher", was born in 1727 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands.  Per findagrave he was born not in 1727 as many sources claim, but instead in the month of Sept. 1724. 

These three brothers Heiskell (Heuschel) (Heuschkehl) immigrated to America via Philadelphia PA on August 25, 1750 on the Ship "Phoenix" arriving on 28 October 1750. The ship was captained by a John Mason and left Rotterdam and came by way of Cowes, England  This is one of the Palatine German Immigrant Ships that arrived in Philadelphia.

Above is a transcription of the passenger list.

Johann Christof  Heiskell married Eve E. Fitzgerald in 1752 in Virginia.  Eve was born in 1730 in Amsterdam and immigrated to America where she married.  Eve died on September 2, 1788 several years before her husband died in 1803.  She evidently died in Frederick, VA.  Her origins may not have been other than the Netherlands.They had several children, including your 4th Great Grandfather, Peter Henry Heiskell, Sr. 

Christopher Heiskell was one of the founders of the original evangelical German Lutheran Church in Winchester, VA. There are two plaques on the restored wall of this church:

Johann died on February 14, 1803 at the age of 76 in Winchester VA and is buried at the German Lutheran Church Cemetery in Winchester City, VA.




Your 4th GGfather Peter Henry Heiskell was born in Winchester, VA when his mom was 30 and dad Johann Christof was 33.  He married your 4th GGmother on May 13, 1783. 

Your 4th GGmother Susanna "Susan" Weitzel was born in 1765 in Winchester VA to Christopher and Mary Bonnet Weitzel.   Susanna was 2nd generation American.  Her grandparents, Johan Jacob Weitzel and Mary Barbara Geist Weitzel were both born in Germany.  Johan Jacob died at age 100.

Hoffenheim, Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

In 1779 Peter was commissioned as an Ensign in the Virginia militia.  He is an approved name for SAR and DAR lineages.


To me, the most fascinating thing about your 4th GGdad occurred when Thomas Jefferson's family found themselves in deep debt following his death.  After struggling for several years, they had to sell Monticello due the high debts of Jefferson.  The Executor's Sale was held in the winter of 1831. James Barkley purchased the mansion then and owned it for three years before selling to U. S. Navy Officer Uriah Levy who ultimately saved Monticello from further ruin.


When the Barkleys made their purchase, they sold off or gave away many of Jefferson's possessions that came with their purchase, including the carriage, or gig, that Jefferson had ridden to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence.  This gig was presented to Peter Heiskell of Staunton. This is an important and  famous gift from the Jefferson estate to your 4th Great Granddad!

I found this story on Ancestry, but am uncertain as to its source. 
It is an interesting anecdote of Peter's time captured as Peter himself said it. 

 Peter died on November 4, 1841 in Staunton, VA, having lived a full life of 82 years.








Susanna died on September l1, 1854, more than a decade after losing her husband Peter.  She was 89 years of age. 
September 19, 1854 Baltimore Sun obituary for Susanna "Susan" Heiskell:
She is buried at Rosethorn Cemetery in Staunton, VA, in Section 9.

PS:  Here is a portrait of Peter's sister Amelia Heiskell (Mrs. Lauck).


DNA Match:  3rd GREAT GRANDPARENTS were Sarah Darnall Heiskell and her husband Joseph Benedict Hill, parents of your GGGrandfather John Oswald Hill Sr. 

Joseph and Sarah are listed in your DNA Hill lineage.  Click here for the continuation of their story.  http://catorfamily.com/genealogy/dnacapthenryhill.html 

However, I do want to add another family story about Sarah and Joseph and their roving kids...:

Joseph and Sarah Heiskell Hill married in 1817 and resided at Prospect Hill in Prince George's County, MD.   One of their children, your 3rd Great Aunt, was daughter, Emily Riddle Hill, who married 1850 Immigrant Gustavo Adolphus Guiseppe Maria Finotti from the Palazzo deo Diamante, Ferra, Emilia-Romangna, Italy.  Whew!  That was a mouthful!  They married in PCG, but did not remain there. 

Gustavo's brother was Priest Joseph Maria Finotti who established St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Oxon Hill, MD.

Sarah and Joseph's daughter Emily and Gustavo may have been the first Italian-American family in Prince George's County, MD.  A banker and merchant in Italy, Gustavo ventured into the realm of tobacco plantation farming in Prince George's County, near his brother's church. 

Sarah soon had five grandchildren by her daughter Emily Riddle Hill; and Gustavo acquired 10 slaves by 1860...the time of the Civil War.  Gustavo had seen battle in his native Italy, but the Civil War cost him dearly, as it did so many families.  Tobacco farming was a bad choice for him and it collapsed further when Lincoln freed the slaves in DC, causing mass desertion of the plantation masters. 

Sarah' and Joseph's daughter Emily Riddle Hill and her family left Maryland, moving in 1864 to Boston where Father Joseph was now located.  Gustavo tried and failed at another business venture in Boston, but also become the first consular representative in Boston for the newly established Kingdom of Italy!  These are pictures of the family of Gustavo and Emily:

With their first two children (Rosina and Frank)

Finotti family in Boston late 1860s (most Finotti pictures from findagrave website)

By now Sarah and Joseph had 9 grandchildren by Emily and then suffered their daughter's huge move to Dakota territory.  Gustavo moved them to Yankton, SD, so very far from both Maryland and Boston.  Yankton was deep in warring Indian territory.  They arrived there about a year after Custer's Last Stand and a decade or so before the battle at Wounded Knee, the last major stand of the Sioux tribe.  Sarah had to be frantic at times over her daughter and grandchildren living in the wild west!

Emily and Gustavo's children:

Somehow, some way, some of Sarah's family did journey back to Maryland which had to have delighted their parents! 

Sarah and Joseph's grandson,3Gustavo Finotti, Jr. married Mary Susan Heiskell of Kildare (a home in Oxon Hill), and then returned with his new family to Yankton, SD.  Susan and Gustavo Jr. were listed in the Yankton 1920 census, where he had established himself as the postmaster for Mission Hill SD.  Also he owned in part a mercantile named Finotti & Brothers.  They lived in Yankton, SD the remainder of their lives.  Mary Susan Heiskell is your first cousin, 3x removed.  It is believed that the marriage period was the only time he returned to Maryland.



Sarah Mary Hill Finotti HeiskellSarah's granddaughter Sarah Mary Hill Finotti returned from SD and married James Alexander Heiskell, the brother of Mary Susan Heiskell (Mrs. Gustave Finotti Jr. above).  They remained in PGC and are both buried at St. Ignatius.  James was also your cousin, 3x removed.




3Sarah's grandson Frank Mary Finotti was a clerk for the Italian consulate while they resided in Boston.  Then they moved to Yankton too.  Eventually Frank came home and married Paulina Edelen of Anacostia DC.  He remained in DC and worked for 25 years at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, as did so many of your ancestors. Frank was the chief clerk at St. Elizabeth's for many of his years of service and even testified before Congress regarding conditions at St. Elizabeth's.  That must have been interesting! Note: He is buried at Mt. Olivet cemetery in DC.  She is buried at St. Ignatius cemetery.


3Sarah's grandson John Bernard Fitzpatrick Mary Finotti of PGC married Ella E.  Brooke, moved to Yankton, and then returned to DC. They are both buried at Congressional Cemetery in DC.  Ella was also your cousin, 3x removed.


The Italian pioneer Gustavo was born in Italy in 1812 and died in Yankton in 1921. 

Parts of this story are based on information contained within "Prince Georgeans in the Old West" By Alan Virta.  http://pghistory.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/V-33-2004-1-OCR.pdf


Please share information....  Questions? Comments?   catorfamily@gmail.com



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