My Carper Story


21. Januar 2023


My story is a mixture of facts and fiction.

In 1694, Hans Wilhelm Cörper, born in 1668 in the village of Boos at the Nahe river, married to Weinsheim.

The people in these villages were members of the Evangelical-Reformed Church and subjects to the Electoral Palatinate and bondmen.

As I do not know exactly how to express it in English, I repeat it in German:

Die Dorfbewohner, sowohl in Weinsheim als auch in Boos, waren in ihrer Mehrheit reformierter Konfession. Sie waren kurpfälzische Untertanen und Leibeigene. Wenn man die Kurpfalz dauerhaft legal verlassen wollte, und sei es auch nur, um in einen nicht-kurpfälzischen Ort zu heiraten, musste man sich aus der Leibeigenschaft freikaufen. Dafür bekam man dann als Quittung einen „Loskaufschein“ ausgestellt. Einen solchen nehme ich auch unten für Nicolaus Cörper an.

The couple had several children. Two of them are of interest for us.

The son Andreas was born in 1698. His brother Johann Nickel (Nicolaus) followed in 1704.

In one of the years from 1709 to 1712 their mother died and their father married for a second time. One of the children of this second marriage was the son Johann Philipp who was born in 1720.

In 1725 or 1726, Andreas married a widow in Gensingen. His wife was 12 years older than him. They had only one child, a daughter. When she was born her mother was already 41 years old.

In 1726, another important decision was made. Nicolaus Cörper left his home village because he saw no chance to earn his livelihood there. He wanted to make something of his life somewhere else. Perhaps he headed for America from the beginning on.

In those times, a bondman could only leave his homeland legally after having paid a certain sum of money to get free from bondage.

So, he paid the money and got a receipt (“Loskaufschein ”) for it saying that his name was “Niklas Cörber” from Weinsheim, 22 years old. The document showed the same misspelling of the surname as the man’s grandfather’s burial entry from 1717 in the church book of Boos: “Johann Jacob Cörber”.

The young man came from a rather poor family. Therefore, he had not enough money to pay for the transit across the ocean. He worked for six years until he had the sum together.

In 1732, Nicolaus boarded the ship Samuel in Rotterdam und crossed the Atlantic. In the first days of August the ship reached Philadelphia.

There the arriving immigrants were registered. Three lists were written, one of them saying that the immigrant, “Nicholas Cörber”, was 22 years old. The writer had just copied name and age from the document the man had shown him. If we can trust the printed version of the list, he replaced “Niklas” or “Nicolaus” with the English equivalent “Nicholas”. Nicolaus was, in reality, already 28 years old.

On the ship he had met his later wife Margaretha Marsteller. They married two years after their arrival in Pennsylvania. The couple got several children.


Now let us look back to Europe.

In 1743, Andreas Cörper’s wife died. Now he stood there alone. Whether his daughter was still alive or not is unknown.

His half-brother Johann Philipp was now 23 years old. He was eager to build up a life for his own. Just as Nicolaus he saw no chance to do it in his home region. He made up his mind to go to America as Nicolaus had done before.

Now Andreas decided to accompany Philipp. He was 22 years older than him. They were like father and son.

The two men travelled to Rotterdam and reached America in the summer or autumn of 1744 or 1745. They joined their brother in Pennsylvania.


In 1746 something happened that is very important for our story. When Nicolaus’s son was baptized Andreas was one of his godfathers. The child was called Andreas.

Andreas stayed at his brother’s. He did not marry again.

But Philipp found a woman to marry and had the opportunity to buy land in Virginia. Thus, he became the ancestor of the numerous Carpers in Virginia, the Carpers of Carpers Valley.

Nicolaus, however, stayed in Pennsylvania. The Carper family group in Roane County, West Virginia, belongs to his offspring, also the families in Fincastle, Botetourt County.