Genealogy of the Woodcock Valley

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania


Isett: How Many Jacob and Mary Isett's Were There?

Posted on January 14, 2011 at 5:25 AM

I have been in an e-mail marathon of correspondence over the last week or so with a group of Isett researchers about that nemesis surname of mine:  Isett!


Most of us have that the American line started with Frederick Isett, who died on the ship coming to America in 1732, with his wife Barbara and two sons - Frederick and Jacob.


We seem to have the Frederick Jr. line down fairly decently...he married Rebecca Markley and had at least five known children.  He lived on a farm in Trappe, Montgomery Co., PA.


It's with his brother Jacob that we run into trouble.  We always had that Jacob B. Isett married "Frau" Mary.  No one ever knows anything about Mary other than she died in Sinking Valley, then Huntingdon Co., PA, now Blair Co., PA.  No one knows when Jacob B. died or where, just that it was before 1790.  Jacob B. and Mary had at least 6 children, but their names and birthdates are not all known. 


Then, we crazy Isett researchers, who keep record of everyone with the last name, have a Jacob Isett of the time period who married Anna Maria Steger.  They had a daughter named Maria Catherine Isett, who was born about 1756 and baptized in the Old Goshenhoppen Church in Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County, PA.  The next church records for Jacob's subsequent children list his wife as Magdelena in 1760 and beyond.  We don't know where this Jacob Isett fits in.


So, here comes the list of $64,000 questions:

  • Who does the second Jacob, who married Anna Mary Steger, belong to?  Who were his parents?
  • Is Jacob B. Isett's middle initial really B.?  B. doesn't fit in the family following any naming patterns.  Was it mistakenly transcribed along the way?
  • Jacob B. doesn't pass on the name Frederick, after his father, to any of his children, which again, doesn't fit with naming patterns of the period.
  • Does Jacob B. even belong as a child of Frederick and Barbara?
  • Are Jacob B., who married Frau Mary, and Jacob, who married Anna Maria Steger, one in the same?  Even though the lists of children do not match up?  Anna Maria Steger also went by "Mary."
  • Are Anna Maria "Mary" Steger and Magdelena one in the same?  Was her real name something like Anna Maria Magdelena Steger?  Or did Anna die after the birth of her first child and Jacob married Magdelena right away?
  • According to birth dates I have, why is Jacob B. older than Frederick?  Again, using naming patterns, Frederick should be the older child.  Is Jacob married to Anna Steger, the brother of Frederick instead of Jacob B.?  I don't have any dates on the other Jacob.
  • Where are any of these Jacobs and Anna Maria "Mary" Steger and Magdelena buried?
  • How did "Frau" Mary end up in Huntingdon County?  Did she simply come with her son, Jacob Henry Isett?

Our list goes on and on, but those are the big questions we're tossing around in e-mail chatter.


Family legend says that Jacob B. Isett had a farm where Girard College now stands in Philadelphia.  I contacted Girard College this week to ask about the history of their landowners, and they have them traced back to 1742.  There is not an Isett on the list.  This does leave a 10 year window from 1732 to 1742, where the Isett family could have been involved, but this seems unlikely.  I will continue to persue checking deed records for that 10 year window, but I think the information about the farm at Girard College is just a legend.


If you are an Isett researcher, and want to jump in on our discussions, let me know.  If you have information you would like to share, you can always post here to this blog entry.  Even if you just have suggestions about how to solve this very old mystery, please share where we can look for new information!

Categories: Family Names

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Reply Susie Fitzhugh
7:42 PM on February 5, 2011 
Am very interested in the isett info, as I strongly suspect the name may in fact (originally) be Isacks, or Isack, or Isaacs. My own maiden name is ISACKS, which a great-uncle has traced back to Jacob C Isacks, a congressman resenting Tennessee for several years but born in Montgomery County PA in 1767. His wife's name and his own precise lineage going backwards is not so clear, but FROM him to me we have a confirmed lineage (see the Jack Fitzhugh Hoyt Family Tree in If you have any information or ideas for me I would appreciate it.
Reply Deb (Fisher) Riley
7:49 PM on February 5, 2011 
Susie, I have been working with two other researchers, and we are starting to second guess some of our most early Isett research wondering if over time other researchers before us started lumping Isack, Isacks, and Isaacs together with the Isett surname. We're beginning to think maybe we are dealing with two separate lines. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. We are trying to round people up from each branch for DNA testing.
Reply Susie Fitzhugh
10:07 PM on February 5, 2011 
Yes I know a little of that because Bonnie Gorman (who told me about this site) and I have been in touch, and we are working on finding out - using DNA - if we are in fact descended from the same people or not. I am so glad to see this confusion of the names is driving other people crazy too, not just me...and glad there is a way we can get closer to the truth now.
Reply Susie Fitzhugh
10:31 PM on February 5, 2011 
Just in case this info is helpful - Jacob C. Isacks' biography appears here: Google Books entry re JACOB C. ISACKS, page 19, of the Biographical Directory, Tennessee General Assembly, 1796-1967, vol. 16- "SENATE, 10th General Assembly, 1813-15; representing Franklin and Warren counties. Born in Montgomery County, Penn., Jan 1, 1767; son of Jacob and Magdelena (Cope) Isacks. Extent of schooling not determined; studied law and admitted to bar at Fayetteville, Lincoln County, Feb 27, 1812. Married, date and place not indicated, to Martha Bullard, daughter of..." I will add more if/when I locate this book for the full citation.