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Heritage and Heraldry

The Origins of the Aleshire/Aleshite/Elscheit Family


Article of May 6, 1999


While it has puzzled me for sometime, recent revelations have begun to make the origins of the Aleshire family that much clearer. As the research of others has become available, it appears that the overall immigrant ancestor of the Aleshire family was Conrad Elscheit of Niederhonnefeld, Prussia, Germany. Conrad had married Maria Catharina Goessel (the daughter of Christopher Goessel of Hardert) in Rengsdorf, Rheinland, Prussia, Germany on September 29 1747. Niederhonnefeld, Rengsdorf, Hardert and a small town by the name of Ehlscheid are all located in West Central Germany, within a short distance of the border of Belgium.

Conrad Elscheit is believed to have been the same Conrad Ellscheid who arrived in Philadelphia from Rotterdam on August 21, 1750. Over time the family name was anglicized to what is now more commonly recognized as ALESHIRE. The tracks of the newly emigrated family were made even more clear from an obituary of John Conrad Aleshire, a son of Conrad Elscheit, in 1849 found in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Saturday Courier.

Apparently after their arrival in North America, the family settled on the Monongahela near Fort Redstone, now Brownsville, in Pennsylvania. “This being the extreme frontier settlement at that time, they soon found it necessary in consequence of their unprotected situation and the frequent depredation of the hostile Indians, to retire farther into the interior. Accordingly, they sunk a pit, into which they put all their implements of husbandry and other articles inconvenient to remove in this hasty retreat, and converting it into a lettuce bed to divert the attention of the Indians, they retired to Cedar Creek, in Frederick, now Shenandoah County. Even after relocating, the “The settlements were being still annoyed by the Indians. They erected forts or block houses to which they retired for safety on any demonstration of hostilities. In the spring of 1756 . . .” when John Conrad Aleshire was “but a few months old, a party of hostile Indians made their appearance in the settlement and murdered several members of a family named Painter, a neighbor of Aleshire's family made a precipitate retreat, but in their haste, entirely neglected the infant who was sleeping in his cradle, until they had nearly reached the fort. His sister returned determined to peril her life for his safety, and cautiously approaching the house, entered through the window, succeeded in getting her infant brother in her arms and bore him in triumph to the fort. She had scarcely left the house, ere the demoniac sound of the savage war-whoop rent the air and told how narrow was the escape from their blood thirsting vengeance.”

In the years that followed, the Aleshire family continued to grow and at least eight children were born to Conrad and Maria Catherina. Two of the children, Henry P. Aleshire, Sr. and John Conrad Aleshire, left a number of heirs in what became known as Page County. Likewise, in addition to Henry and John C., at least three other siblings served in the Revolutionary War. Leaving a detailed pension of his service, Henry served as a corporal in the 4th Virginia Regiment. John Conrad served as a sergeant and from the appearance of his obituary, upheld a remarkable record of service.

According to his obituary, John Conrad Aleshire participated in Washington's crossing of the Delaware and the follow-on battle of Trenton. “ He continued in the army during three tours and was in several of the hardest contested battles. For a time, he retired from the field, but was not inactive in furthering the common cause. His frequent sallies against the Tories caused them much discomfiture and his name among them struck terror in their ranks . . . In the closing scene, near to the side of the father of his country, he stood before Yorktown.”

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