The Transue Family
Johann Abraham Transue was the son of Abraham Transue and Anna Margaretha Miller, who came to America in the summer of 1730 aboard the ship, “Thistle.” Abraham, as he was called, was born a year later, on June 6, 1731, in Salisbury Township, Bucks County (which is now a part of Lehigh County, southeast of Allentown). He trained to be a wheelwright, and married a local girl, Maria Magdelena Lang, in 1755. According to genealogical records, in 1756 the couple moved the Durham Tract, in the newly formed Williams Township, taking up residence at the stone house at the intersection of County Line and Durham Roads, along the bustling stage coach route. His property holdings extended just north of Stouts Valley Road and included the parcels upon which the blacksmith shop and Stone Cottage Woods stood. In 1785, he paid a Federal tax on 200 acres of land, three horses and three cattle. In 1786 and 1788 he was assessed for the same amount, and also paid a tax as a Tavern Keeper.
Abraham and Anna’s tavern was one of the stopping places along the route connecting Easton to Philadelphia, where travelers could secure refreshment and a change of horses. The couple had eleven children, beginning with Elias, born in 1756, and ending with Mattheis, born in 1780. Three sons, and two grandsons worked as blacksmiths. Abraham and seven of his sons enlisted in Col. Philip Boehm’s Company of the 4th Battalion of the Northampton County militia in 1782.
Although he spent his adult life building his business and raising his large family on this property, it was not until Feb 5, 1800 that Abraham received a deed for his land from John Thompson, one of the Durham Company investors, and the post-Durham Company legally recorded history of the land begins. At this point, four of his sons – Elias, Johann Philip, Johannes, and Jacob, had moved north to Smithfield Township, Monroe County. Between the years 1800 and 1806, Abraham divided his land into seven parcels, some of which were sold to neighbors, and several of which he deeded to two his sons, Anthony and Peter. Anthony was a blacksmith, and Peter, a farmer in Lower Saucon, who received his deed on March 28, 1806.
Abraham was predeceased by his wife Anna in 1810, and he died on April 30, 1813. They are buried in the old Williams Churchyard in Williams Township.
At this point, it appears likely that the blacksmith shop, on the north side of the road, was part of Anthony’s holdings, and the house on the south side of the road would have gone to Peter. The next few transfers of property are challenging to follow. Peter (born 1777) and his wife Mary (born Maria Elizabeth Grube, 1782) sold off tracts of this land to neighbors and relatives. On April 19, 1815 they sold a messuage and 93 perches (a small lot, potentially the Stone Cottage Woods house) to Peter’s nephew, Abraham, Jr (b 1788) who was a carpenter and a farmer. On April 2, 1823 , they sold nearly a hundred acres and a messuage to a neighbor, Andrew Ruth, who lived in the stone house at the intersection of Durham and Stouts Valley Road. They sold another 16 acres to a neighbor, Jacob Deemer (b 1797), around the same time.
Abraham Transue Jr and his wife Margaret Ann Neihardt had 9 children between 1811 and 1831. Geneological records point to him moving to Illinois around 1830. If he had been living at Stone Cottage Woods between 1815 and 1830, and/or had sold the property to Jacob Deemer is unknown. What we do know is that on April 4, 1848, the house was back in Transue hands. Isaac Transue (b 1800), grandson of Johann Abraham and a blacksmith by trade, and his wife Sarah B Call (b 1803), purchased the 93 perches back from Jacob J. and Catherine Deemer. Andrew Ruth also sold them 5 acres 5 perches to add on to their 93 perches, providing for a small but comfortable homestead. They raised 7 children, at least the last two in Stone Cottage Woods: Christine (b 1826), Jeremiah (b 1827), Isaac Synder (b 1827), Sarah (b 1829), Joshua (b 1832), Ellemanda (b 1842) and Anna (1849). Although he did not appear to own it, the blacksmith shop would have been an ideal location, just as it had been for Isaac’s uncles and cousin.
In their late 60’s, Isaac and Sarah died at home just days apart in 1869; Isaac on November 14 and Sarah on November 18. They are buried in Old Williams Cemetery. The administrators of their estate were their eldest son Jeremiah, and their eldest daughter Christine’s husband, Francis Sloyer (remember that name). The two tracts – the 5 acres and the 93 perches plus the house, went to auction to settle the estate.
The Steinbach Family
Jacob Steinbach/Stonebach of Williams Township had a grandson William, b 1819. William was a blacksmith who, on May 29, 1870, bought another tract of what was likely Anthony Transue’s land that had previously been sold off to Jacob and Harriet Steely. While difficult to follow the trail, evidence points to a small lot of 1307 square feet across the road from the house, potentially being the site of the blacksmith shop. It would appear that William needed a new place to practice his trade.
At the age of 51, William had already been through a lot. His wife Mary Anne (b Lee, 1819) had trouble with the last two of her six pregnancies. Their son Richard (b 1851) died within a year, and Mary Anne died within 16 months of giving birth to their youngest, Jacob Lee, in 1853. In the 1860 Federal census for Williams Township, William is listed with a property value of $300, and a household comprised of his daughter Catherine, age 11, and son Jacob Lee, age 7. The older children would have grown and moved away by this time. There is a reference to a second wife, Lucy Ann, who appears in both the 1860 and 1870 census.
The Mystery of Lucy Ann Steinbach
Lucy Ann Steinbach is a bit of an enigma. The Williams Township Federal census records would put her birth at about 1820, but based on her marriage record to William Steinbach on January 13, 1857, it is likely she was a bit older, having actually been born on November 29, 1815. That marriage record indicates that her full name at time of marriage was Louisa Ann Huber; at 42 she was likely a widow when she married William.
By 1870, William was doing well financially, according to census records of 1870. Daughter Catherine was married and living in Bethlehem, and Lucy Ann and Jacob Lee were at home.
The plot thickens when the Stone Cottage Woods house (the 5 acres 5 perches and 93 perches) went to auction upon the death of Isaac and Sarah Transue. Lucy Ann went to the auction, and placed the winning bid of $625 to claim title to the property on March 4, 1871 for her husband, the blacksmith working across the street, one of 12 practicing blacksmiths in Williams Township (according to census records of 1880. By 1900, there were only 2 remaining blacksmiths in the township; William Steinbach was the last blacksmith to work across the street from Stone Cottage Woods).
It must have been an unusual move for a woman of that time to purchase property independently of her husband, and it stayed in her name for eleven years.
In 1882, the property flipped at a net cost of $25. On March 23, Lucy Ann and William sold the house to Milton L. Deemer for $625. Four days later, on March 27, Milton L. Deemer sold it back to William Steinbach for $650. Lucy Ann’s name was not recorded on this deed with her husband.
There’s no census listing for either Lucy Ann or William Steinbach after the census of 1870; Lucy Ann passed away on January 23, 1887 and is buried at Durham Cemetery. Five years later, on March 20, 1893, at the age of 74, William sold the property to Robert Shimer (a descendent of the Shimers of Williams Township, who lived across the valley in the area between Buttermilk Road and Raubsville Road; by the 1860’s there were several Shimers along Steeley Hill Road as well). William died 3 years later, and is buried at Durham Cemetery.
It’s not clear whether Robert and Sabilla Shimer purchased the property to live there or rent out, as they only kept it for 1 year. They were in their 50’s at the time. On March 30, 1894, they sold the house and now 3 tracts (5 acres 5 perches, 93 perches, and 1307 square feet) to George J. and Ida Sloyer.
The Sloyer Family
In 1860, Christine Transue, daughter of Isaac Transue and Sarah Call of Stone Cottage Woods, married Francis Sloyer. He was a widower, having previously been married to Maria Ann Hatter, who had borne four children: Catharina Amanda (b 1852), Anna Maria (b 1854), Caroline (b 1855), and Peter (b 1858). A year after giving birth to Peter, Maria Ann died; Francis wed Christine Transue a year later, and they had two daughters.
Francis’s Sloyer’s nephew George (b 1862) was a furnace laborer hailing from Springfield, Bucks County. He married Amanda “Ida” Rodenbach (descendant of another Williams township family) on Sept 23, 1893 in Durham, and they moved into Stone Cottage Woods in 1894. Here they raised two girls, Sadie Viola (b 1897) and Laura May (b 1898). The Durham furnace would have been the closest workplace for a furnace laborer like George; after it shut down operations in 1908, George may have sought work at the Glendon furnace. On February 12, 1917, George sold the property to E. Frank Sobers.