Friday, June 9, 2023

Some Things Never Change — Others Do


When we reach far back into our family's history, we may assume that some things never change. The name of the town where our great-grandparents grew up still sports the same name, right?

Not necessarily so. Now that I've discovered that the family of Mathias Ambrose—my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather—might not always have lived in Pennsylvania, I'm ready to go searching for him in the place where his children were said to have been baptized: Thurmont, Maryland.

But not so fast. When we delve into the history of our ancestors, we also need to heed the history of the places where they lived. Thurmont, in Frederick County, Maryland, is a prime example. As it turns out, if Mathias Ambrose lived in Frederick County at all, he most certainly couldn't have lived in Thurmont. Why? Thurmont was originally known as Mechanicstown.

Mechanicstown was a town incorporated in 1751, but some records seem to indicate the place was settled by German immigrants in the mid 1740s—in some cases, before the formation of Frederick County, itself. It wasn't until 1893 that the town's name officially changed to Thurmont—long after Mathias Ambrose's passing around 1804.

Whether the Ambrose family was among those early German settlers of the colonial Maryland region which eventually became known as Thurmont, I can't yet say. However, just by thinking through the details, if any of the Ambrose children were baptized in Maryland, rather than in Pennsylvania, the dates were likely to be far back in the 1700s. After all, some of Mathias' children were mentioned in his will as married, and at least one grandchild was indicated. I'd guess at least twenty years had passed since the family had been in Maryland, by the time of his passing.

Whether looking for Thurmont or Mechanicstown, what I need to do next is locate the resource mentioned in the Ambrose website: records for a place known as Apple's Lutheran and Reformed Church. Turns out, there are books which may be of help with that. We'll look into that further next week.

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