Borer-Borrer-Bohrer-Borror Family


The Borer ancestors were one of many protestants families immigrating from the German Palatine to America in 1749. The above picture is of the town of Cochen on the Mosel River, in the Palatinate. Though I have no Borer ancestry, we have many Borer/Borrer cousins through the 3rd marriage of Celia Williams to Elijah Borrer, as explained below.


The journey to Pennsylvania fell naturally into three parts. The first part, and by no means the easiest, was the journey down the Rhine to Rotterdam or some other port. Gottlieb Mittelberger in his Journey to Pennsylvania in the year 1750, wrote:

"This journey lasts from the beginning of May to the end of October, fully half a year, amid such hardships as no one is able to describe adequately with their misery. The cause is because the Rhine boats from Heilbronn to Holland have to pass by 26 custom houses, at all of which the ships are examined, which is done when it suits the convenience of the custom-house officials. In the meantime, the ships with the people are detained long, so that the passengers have to spend much money. The trip down the Rhine lasts therefore four, five, and even six weeks. When the ships come to Holland, they are detained there likewise five to six weeks. Because things are very dear there, the poor people have to spend nearly all they have during that time."
The second stage of the journey was from Rotterdam to one of the English ports. Most of the ships called at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. This was the favorite stopping place, as 142 ships are recorded as having sailed from Rotterdam to Cowes. . .

In England there was another delay of one to two weeks, when the ships were waiting either to be passed through the custom house or waiting for favorable winds. When the ships had for the last time weighed their anchors at Cowes or some other port in England, then, writes Mittelberger, "the real misery begins with the long voyage. For from there the ships, unless they have good wind, must often sail eight, nine, ten to twelve weeks before they reach Philadelphia. But even with the best wind the voyage lasts seven weeks."

The third stage of the journey, or the ocean voyage proper, was marked by much suffering and hardship. The passengers being packed densely, like herrings, as Mittelberger describes it, without proper food and water, were soon subject to all sorts of diseases, such as dysentery, scurvy, typhoid and smallpox. Children were the first to be attacked and died in large numbers. Mittelberger reports the deaths of 32 children on his ship. Of the heartless cruelty practised he gives the following example: "One day, just as we had a heavy gale, a woman in our ship, who was to give birth and could not under the circumstances of the storm, was pushed through the porthole and dropped into the sea, because she was far in the rear of the ship and could not be brought forward."

The terrors of disease, brought about to a large extent by poor food and lack of good drinking water, were much aggravated by frequent storms through which ships and passengers had to pass. "The misery reaches the climax when a gale rages for two or three nights and days, so that every one believes that the ship will go to the bottom with all human beings on board. In such a visitation the people cry and pray most piteously. When in such a gale the sea rages and surges, so that the waves rise often like mountains one above the other, and often tumble over the ship, so that one fears to go down with the ship; when the ship is constantly tossed from side to side by the storm and waves, so that no one can either walk, or sit, or lie, and the closely packed people in the berths are thereby tumbled over each other, both the sick and the well ~ it will be readily understood that many of these people, none of whom had been prepared for hardships, suffer so terribly from them that they do not survive."

When at last the Delaware River was reached and the City of Brotherly Love hove in sight, where all their miseries were to end, another delay occurred. A health officer visited the ship and, if any persons with infectious diseases were discovered on the ship, it was ordered to remove one mile from the city. As early as 1718, Dr. Thomas Graeme was appointed to visit and report on all incoming vessels. But no reports from him are on record until the year 1738. On September 14, 1738, Governor George Thomas laid before the Board the reports of Dr. Graeme, "setting forth the condition of four ships lately arrived here from Rotterdam and Amsterdam; And it being observed from one of the said reports that were the Passengers on Board the ships Nancy and Friendship allowed to be immediately landed, it might prove dangerous to the health of the Inhabitants of this Province and City, It is Ordered that the Masters of said Ships be taken into Custody for their Contempt of the Governour's Order, signified to them by Thos. Glenworth, pursuant to a Law of this Province, to remove to the Distance of one Mile from this City, and that they shall remain in Custody till they shall give security in the sum of Five Hundred Pounds each, to obey the said Order, and not to land any of their passengers, Baggage, or Goods, till the Passengers shall have been viewed and examined, and untill they shall receive a Licence from the Governor for so doing."

The Governor urged at this time that a hospital be erected for sich passengers, but the Assembly refused to act until an epidemic broke out in the city of Philadelphia. Then the Assembly voted to buy Fisher Island, at the junction of the Schuylkill with the Delaware. The Island was bought in 1743 . . . The name of the island was changed to Province Island . . . the erection of an adequate hospital was, however, delayed until the year 1750. . .

A vivid account of the arrival of these passenger ships in the harbor of Philadelphia is given by the Rev. Henry M. Muehlenberg, in a report which he sent to Halle . . . "After much delay one ship after another arrives in the harbor of Philadelphia, when the rough and severe winter is before the door. One or more merchants receive the lists of the freights and the agreement which the emigrants have signed with their own hand in Holland, together with the bills for their travel down the Rhine and the advances of the 'newlanders' for provisions, which they received on the ships on account. . . Then the new arrivals are led in procession to the City Hall and there they must render the oath of allegiance to the king of Great Britain. After that they are brought back to the ship. Then announcements are printed in the newspapers, stating how many of the new arrivals are to be sold. Those who have money are released. Whoever has well-to-do friends seeks a loan from them to pay the passage, but there are only a few who succeed. The ship becomes a market-place. The buyers make their choice among the arrivals and bargain with them for a certain number of years and days. They then take them to the merchant, pay their passage and their other debts and receive from the government authorities a written document, which makes the newcomers their property for a definite period."

Federal immigrant records were not kept until 1825, although a few counties have records. He could not have immigrated directly to Illinois, which had no seaport. However, some Port of Philadelphia ship captains' passenger lists survive and had to be presented "At the Court House in Philadelphia." These records show that in the year 1749 alone, twenty-two sailing ships arrived with almost 30,000 German passengers. "The ratio of passengers to signers of the lists was approximately 5 to 2," so children and most women were not listed.

 Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, by Ralph Baker Strassburger and William John Hinke. Norristown, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934. Reprinted Springtown, VA: Genealogical Books in Print, 1992; p. 418, 419. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2nd Printing, 1980, pp. xxx-xxxi).

Celia Williams, Daughter of Aaron Williams & Charity Nation of Jefferson Co., TN; Washington, St. Clair, Madison, and Greene Cos., IL; Conway and Perry Cos., AR

Celia md. 1st Mr. Kitchell, 2nd Mr. Draper, 3rd Elijah Borer in Greene Co., IL, 25 Jul 1825

By Mr. Kitchell, she had 1 child, Sarah Kitchell b. 1823 who md. James Green in Conway Co., AR

Elijah Borer and wife Celia had a Large Family


 Orrin Crippen (1829-1926), husband of Mary "Polly" Borer (1831-1912), oldest daughter of Elijah Borer & wife Celia Williams

Courtesy of David Doell

Celia Williams was born 1809 in Tennessee and moved with her parents, Aaron Williams, Sr., and Charity Nation, to Illinois. The family was in several successive Illinois counties: Washington, St. Clair, Madison, and Greene. Celia married young, 1st to a Mr. Kitchell and had a daughter Sarah Kitchell born 1823. Mr. Kitchell soon died, and Celia married 2nd a Mr. Draper. Both marriages were probably in Washington Co., IL, because the family lived there for a time, no record has been found, and that county's marriage records have been burned.

When Celia married for the 3rd time to Elijah Borer in Greene Co., IL on 10 July 1825, she was Mrs. Celia Draper on the license.

Sarah Kitchell was my great-great-grandmother, the mother of William and John Marion Green who md. Alford girls who were 1st cousins. Through Sarah's mother Celia's 3rd marriage, to Elijah Borer, their children and grandchildren are my cousins and often double cousins because of intermarriages with our Green, Alford, and Williams kinfolk. The name was variously spelled Borer, Bohrer, Borror. Today, in Texas our kinfolks spell it Borrer, while the family still in West Virginia spell it Borror. We are told Borer was the Swiss spelling and Bohrer the German spelling.

Elijah Borer was born 6 Oct 1802 in Illinois, although it had been family tradition that he was a German orphan who immigrated to America age twelve (in 1814). The 1820 U.S. census column to check if a person was foreign-born, was not checked for Elijah.

Living in Greene Co., IL and associated with the Williams and Robins families was Jacob Borer, born 1797-1800 according to census records. Jacob could not have been more than 13 years old in 1810 when he married Elizabeth Robins, daughter of William Robins and wife Catherine as proven by William's estate record in Greene Co. Jacob served in the War of 1812 with an Illinois unit, was given two military land grants in Washington Co. IL while living in Monroe Co. in 1817. Jacob signed permission for Priscilla Borer to marry Mr. Thomas Richardson, 10 July 1828 in Greene Co., IL, the same day Elijah Borer married Mrs. Celia Draper, and Celia's brother Curtis Williams married Rachel Robins. Priscilla was probably his 17- or 18-year-old daughter.

It is likely that Elijah and Jacob Borer were orphans, born in Illinois rather than Germany; their mother was Irish, and Jacob became the head of the family when their parents died. Who were the parents? I think at last, we have the answer!

Jacob's 1817 land grants in Monroe Co. were in the neighborhood as the New Design settlement established by Baptists from northern Virginia (now northeast West Virginia), in 1797. A history of Illinois tells us that a year or so before 1797, a group of Baptists from Hardy County, northern Virginia, on the south branch of the Potomac River (now N.E. West Virginia), led by Rev. David Badgley, explored the frontier of Illinois (at that time part of Northwest Territory). They spent the summer and preached often, to spread their faith among settlers whose only ministry until then was by French Canadian Catholic priests who had come down the Mississippi.

The explorers returned to Virginia and conducted a series of meetings to describe what they had seen and determine whether their church members wanted to relocate to Illinois.

"It is said that Solomon Shook and Mr. BORER moved to New Design the year before" the group of 154 who made the arduous 1400-mile move from Virginia to Illinois, crossing the mountains to Morgantown on the Monongahela River, thence to the Ohio River, where they waited for their uncovered flat boats to be completed. They embarked in May, had wet weather, and arriving in Illinois, mired in muddy roads which slowed their progress through the wilderness to New Design. Many settlers sickened and died, almost half of them that first summer and fall.

The following excerpt from Pioneer History of Illinois by a governor of that state tells the story of New Design:


By process of elimination, the Mr. BORER was Martin, son of Jacob Borer I and his wife We know only that Mr. Boror lived until 1802 when Elijah was born. It is likely that Jacob was left with great responsibilities and had to become a man at a young age after his parents died, and therefore was ready to take a wife and make a home in 1810 when he married.

The route taken by the Illinois Borers, from emigration to the Port of Philadelphia, PA, was to Lancaster Co., PA, York Co., PA, Hampshire Co., VA (now WV), and Hardy Co. (now WV). From there abt 1797, across the Allegheny Mountains to Morgantown, WV, where they boarded boats on the Monangahela River, down the Ohio to its confluence with the Mississippi River, and overland to New Design, IL, is 1300 miles:


Later, many children of the Borers remaining in VA (WV) went to Franklin Co., OH, along the Ohio River. The WV and OH family has a semi-annual Borror Reunion, publishes a Borror's Corners quarterly newspaper, and hosts a web site. Some descendants use the spelling BOYER, which they say is closer to the German pronunciation, but most use Borror.

Three immigrants believed to be brothers came from Germany to Lancaster Co., PA in 1750. Peter Bohrer/Borer was born 1730 in Baden-Baden, Germany. His presumed brothers were Michael and Jacob. A descendant of Peter's says that he and a brother fought for the Patriots during the American Revolution, but the other brother fought for the Tories and returned to Germany after the war. Since Jacob remained in America, Michael must have returned to Germany, for he ceased to be mentioned in PA records.

Peter Bohrer/Borer married Maria Margaret Lautenslager, and their son George E. Borah moved to Kentucky before 1810.

Jacob BORER (I) married Barbara Judy (Tschudi), the daughter of Martin Judy, Jr., and Roseanna Schafner from Canton Basel, Switzerland.

. . . At the Court House at Philadelphia, Wedneday, 30th August, 1749 . . . The Foreigners whose Names are underwritten, imported in the Ship Crown, Michael James, Master, from Rotterdam and last from Cowes in England, did this day take the usual Qualifications to the Government. Switzers p. List 134, No. 500 or 476 [passengers], included the names of:


(1) Gottlieb Mittelberger's Journey to Pennsylvania in the year 1750 and return to Germany in the year 1754. Translated from the German by Carl Theo Eben, Philadelphia: John Jos. McVey, 1888, p. 18.

(2) Hallesche Nachrichten, new ed., Vol. II, pp. 460-461.

Quoted in: Strassburger: Pennsylvania German Pioneers. 2nd Printing, 1980, pp. xxxiii-xxxvii, 391.

Thomas, Jacob, and Charles Borer lived out their lives in the same area of Virginia which became West Virginia in 1867. That leaves MARTIN BORER as the one who went to Illinois and the probable parent of Jacob and Elijah Borer.

Little is known about Martin Boror except that he married Katy Kelly, 17 Nov 1792, in Frederick Co., VA. There was a MARKET BORROR who died 1810 in and is buried at Riggleman Ceme., Grant Co., WV, believed to be Thomas.

Alas, no census records for early Illinois are available. Illinois was part of Northwest Territory, which included Indiana. Indiana became a state in 1816, and Illinois in 1818, so the first census in either was in 1820.

County lines changed dramatically and often, but in 1810 the largest by far was St. Clair Co., IL (maps,, where Jacob Borer married Elizabeth Robins. He served in the War of 1812. In 1817, while living in Monroe Co., he was granted two land warrants in Washington Co., IL. In the first (1818) Illinois State census, Jacob was in Monroe Co. with four males under 21. In 1820 Jacob Borna was enumerated in Six Mile Prairie, Madison Co., IL. In 1828 Jacob owned land in Greene Co., and in the 1830 census, he and Elijah Borer were both enumerated in Greene Co., where in 1828 Elijah had married Mrs. Celia (Williams Kitchell) Draper. Jacob had a wife and five children. Elijah had a wife and three children including his step-daughter Sarah Kitchell.

Jacob Borer died intestate in Greene Co. 1 Jun 1839, leaving a wife and a son Abraham. There was an unexplained Jacob Borer age 30-40 enumerated in the 1840 Greene Co. census.

During the 1830s Elijah and Celia went south with the Aaron Williams family and other neighbors from Greene Co. Jacob remained in Greene Co., where he was enumerated in 1840 as Jacob so probably had two other brothers whose names we don't know.


Descendants of Jacob Borer and Elizabeth Robins, md. 8 Oct 1810, St. Clair Co., IL, and their son Abraham

Descendants of Priscilla Borer and Timothy Richardson, md. 10 Jul 1828, Greene Co., IL

Would love to contact their descendants!

Jacob and Barbara (Tschudi/Judy) Borror's other children and descendants are mostly known. There has been a Jacob in each succeeding generation (now up to Jacob IX).

Elijah and Celia Borer moved with her father Aaron Williams to Conway Co., AR after the 1830 census, by 1833, since Celia had a son born in Conway Co. in Jan 1834. They were listed on 1840 Conway Co. census and Conway and Perry Co. tax lists (after Perry was created from part of Conway).

Elijah and Celia died, as did Aaron Sr. and many of the Williams family, in an epidemic in early 1840s. Celia's surviving children, including Sarah Kitchell and husband James Green, moved on to Texas 1846-1847. Isaac Borer, the oldest son, was a 17-year-old with a huge responsibility: his orphan brothers and sisters.

In 1850 Isaac Borrer was enumerated as head of house in the Caldwell Co., TX, census with his siblings: Mary 18, William 14 (Susan Ann and Owen not listed), and Elizabeth J. was 9.

On 12 June 1856, Isaac Borrer married Sophronia Neeley. He was 26 and she was 23, the daughter of David J. Neely and Eliza Annie Carter. Sophronia was born 13 January 1833 in Russellville, Logan Co., KY, where records of her family are found. Not long after they married, Sophronia's father died, leaving a widow with small children, for near the time of the father's death, their 13th child was born. Over the years the widow always lived by Isaac and Sophronia, and Isaac rendered her taxes and apparently helped to provide for both his family and hers. No doubt the women and children worked hard too!

Isaac and Sophronia produced eight children of their own: Mary Ann Elizabeth "Jane" Borrer, born 4 April 1858; William Aaron Borrer, born 23 July 1860; California Borrer, born 1 Oct 1863; James Isaac "Ike" Borrer, born 4 April 1867; Susan A. Borrer, born 6 Aug 1869; Elijah Thomas Borrer, born 29 Aug 1871; Safronia K. Borrer, born 9 June 1874; and Texas Borrer, born 9 June 1876. Isaac operated a mercantile store and cotton gin in Stewart's Prairie, Gonzales Co., TX, starting in 1870. When the railroad bypassed Stewart's Prairie, Waelder was established in 1873 and Isaac's store became less profitable and closed in 1885. Isaac Borrer died 29 April 1899 and is buried in the Waelder City Cemetery, Gonzales Co. His wife Sophronia died 29 March 1903 and is buried beside him.

THANKS to Bill Hallmark and his book with Elijah Borrer's descendants; to information shared by Borror Family Association President Jim Borror, Borror Association Historian Lillian Kenney, and Jim Clark, the following lineage was compiled:

Descendants of Jacob Borer I of Baden-Baden, Germany

Father of Peter Borer (Bohrer) and Jacob Borer men in York and Lancaster Cos., PA, whose Descendants' DNA in 2004 is an exact match.

They worked at Elizabeth Furnace and Charming Forge, owned by the same man, as shown by company books: