Week 10: #52 Ancestors – Name’s the Same
By Eilene Lyon
The older I get, the less enamored I am with celebrity culture. The names I know mostly date to the last century; about today’s stars I’m clueless. But, I’m still amused when I discover famous cousins. For example, Bette Midler is supposedly a 10th cousin on my Crandall line, or something like that.
This week’s celebrity relative is actor Rob Lowe, my 7th cousin (one of uncountable thousands). Rob’s middle name is Hepler (his mother’s maiden name). I have to climb up to my 3rd great-grandmother, Catherine Hepler, to reach this branch on my family tree. When I become a prominent author, Rob can boast about being my cousin (yeah, right!).
Our common ancestors are our 6th great-grandparents, Casper Hepler and Susanna Scheibel. They resided in Vaihingen an der Enz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The couple, with their first two sons, arrived in Philadelphia in 1748 on the ship Patience out of Rotterdam. They settled in Upper Milford Township in Northampton County (now Lehigh), Pennsylvania.
Their four surviving sons – Jacob, Christopher, Casper, Jr., and George – all served in the Revolutionary War. Rob is descended from Jacob, and I am from Casper, Jr. down to his granddaughter, Catherine. Though much is known about Catherine’s family, we know almost nothing about her.
Catherine’s parents are Peter M. Hepler (the second son listed on the plaque above) and Anna Maria Wagner. They owned land in Upper Mahantongo Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and belonged to St. Jacob’s (Howerter’s) Lutheran Church. They both died in 1842 and are buried in the church cemetery. She had two sisters: Salome (Hepler) Bolich (1798-1874) and Maria (Hepler) Neischwender (1808-1869).
Catherine was baptized in 1811, along with Maria, but her birth date remains unknown. She married Samuel Paul about 1828 (no record) and had five children up through 1838, when she is believed to have died and been buried with her parents. However, no record seems to exist to confirm her death or burial, either. Her daughter, Mary Paul Boyer Reams, is my 2nd-great-grandmother.
The Hepler clan still owns large parcels of land in the Schuylkill/Northumberland County area. Casper and Susanna’s descendants occasionally hold family reunions in Pennsylvania. I’ve yet to explore the area, but it’s on the list.
The Heplers are just one of my many German Lutheran family lines. I could (and hopefully will) spend months traversing the German countryside visiting all my ancestral villages. It’s probably much more likely than meeting cousin Rob!
Feature image: Marktplatz in Vaihingen an der Enz, Germany (Wikimedia Commons)