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Irvin Mark Reese and Ada Schaffner Reese

The story of the Reese and Schaffner families of the last hundred and fifty years originates in what is now North Annville Township in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Both Daniel Reese and Phillip Shaffner moved into the area as young men. The two families first converged when one of Phillip's grandsons, Frank Schaffner, married one of Daniel's granddaughters, Nora Reese. Two years later, in 1915, Frank's sister, Ada, married Nora's brother, Irvin.

Irvin Mark Reese

Irvin and Ada Reese 1915

was born 23 Aug 1893, at home along the Quittapahilla Creek in North Londonderry Twp across from the village of Syner. Most of his ancestors were part of the German religious migration in the 18th Century, forming the group known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, who were German-speaking immigrants from Switzerland and Germany. However, Irvin's direct patrilineal ancestry, the Reese family, was not German. The Reeses were English-speaking settlers, part of the group of immigrants known as the Scotch-Irish, who were mainly Presbyterians who first settled the area between the Swatara Creek and the Susquehanna River. Around 1720, German settlers began to move into the area, and we know that it was not more than two generations before our Reese ancestors intermarried with the Germans. The earliest known records come from Wenrich's Church in Paxton Township, Dauphin County. Wenrich's was a German Lutheran and Reformed Church built in 1794 to replace the log church shared by the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Lutherans in the area. It was from this congregation that Irvin's grandfather, Daniel Reese, moved to North Annville Twp around 1860. Daniel married Lydia Ensminger in 1862. Lydia's ancestors, including the Dohners, Landises, and Longeneckers, were mostly Mennonites from Lancaster County, although the Ensmingers were Lutherans from Lebanon. The dialect spoken by the Swiss-German settlers of the region was so pervasive, that it became the common language, even for the former English-speaking settlers. It wasn't until the turn of the 20th Century that English became the primary language of our ancestors. In Ray Bowman's Brief History of Palmyra, he recounts how most of the Scotch-Irish did not mix well with the Germans, and so moved on to Cumberland County, and that there are "few indeed today in the Palmyra area who can trace their ancestry to the Scotch-Irish who settled here." We, apparently, are part of the few. For most of his life Irvin worked as a tenant farmer, so his family moved from place to place in Lebanon and Dauphin Counties. He probably never had a driver's license. He may have owned a car at one time, but we never knew him to drive. Of course, he did drive horse wagons and tractors. In his later years Irvin worked for the maintenance department in the Science Building at Lebanon Valley College. He was well-known and respected among the Science Professors and among the local businessmen of downtown Annville, where he could be seen walking to and from work.

Ada Caroline Schaffner

was born 22 Nov 1896, less than a mile away in North Annville Twp. Ada's ancestors were completely Pennsylvania German. Her direct patrilineal line goes back to Heinrich Shaffner, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1749. He obtained passage to America, on credit, for himself and his new bride. Once in Lancaster County, Henry worked for two years to pay off the debt. Eventually he was able to purchase a plot in the new village of Middletown in Dauphin County. Three generations later, Ada's grandfather, Phillip Shaffner, moved his young family to North Annville Twp around 1870. Phillip married Maria Alleman. Maria's ancestors, including the Allemans, Killingers, and Heilmans, were mostly Lutherans who had lived in North Annville and Londonderry for several generations. As was common for the times, Ada was a homemaker. She was active in the WCTU and the Missionary Society at St. John's Church in Steelstown.

During this time, one-room schoolhouses dotted the countryside. North Annville Twp alone once had as many as nine schools. Irvin and Ada's three older daughters all attended one-room schools in North Annville and North Londonderry Twp through the Eighth grade, before moving on to high school. By the time the three younger daughters were reaching the upper grades, the schoolhouses were being phased out in favor of the consolidated school buildings with separate classrooms. Ada died prematurely at age 50. Irvin remarried, to Anna Reich Long, and had another daughter. He outlived both wives. Irvin died at age 95 and was buried next to Ada at St. John's Evangelical Congregational Church, in North Annville Twp, within walking distance of where they both were born. As of 2003, in addition to the children listed here, Irvin and Ada's living descendants include 19 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren, and 20 great-great-grandchildren.

Our Pennsylvania Ancestry

Extended ancestry and descendancy of these families may be found on my North Annville genealogy database at RootWeb.com.

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