Jacob Fazenbaker and Elizabeth "Betsy" (Reckner)

Jacob Fazenbaker was born about the 1780s, son of the Hessian soldier George Fazenbaker. On 1/17/1808, he married Elizabeth "Betsy" Reckner, daughter of Daniel and Sarah Reckner. Daniel was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. (His War records spelled the surname "Ricknor.") According to genealogist Wayne Bittinger, Daniel "enlisted in the Continental army at Allentown, Pennsylvania, in April 1778, for a term of three years. He was a private in Capt. William Oldham's Company of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment and was present at the battles of Brandywine and Monmouth. He served in the army until the spring of 1781, and was discharged at Reading, Pennsylvania."

By 1787, Daniel Reckner had settled in western Maryland not far from the home of the Hessian soldier George Fazenbaker. Daniel owned as much as 334 acres of land. His home place, which was probably where daughter Elizabeth was raised, was in the vicinity of Westernport Road north of the head of Aaron Run. In recent years a new military grave marker has been placed at his homeplace on Big Savage Mountain.

Elizabeth's birth year is not reliably known. The 1870 census suggests about 1785, pension records relating to her husband's military service say about 1785 and also about 1789, and the 1850 census suggests about 1790. The pension records note that she and Jacob Fazenbaker were married in 1808 but also give the year as 1809. According to a contemporary, Charles Broadwater, they were married "in George's Hills in Allegany County...at the residence of the said Elizabeth's father."

At the time of the 1810 census, Jacob Fazenbaker was head of a household that included four people. That census did not list the names of household members other than the head, but it did include the age brackets of each household member. An adult male and an adult female in the household were presumably Jacob and Elizabeth. There were also two males under age 10, but because the records of this family are so sparse, it requires an uncomfortable degree of speculation to ascribe names to these young boys.

Jacob must have been respected by his neighbors, for he was a witness to the will of William Ross in 1807 and of William Howell on 10/15/1811. The Ross will was also witnessed by Jacob's father George Fazenbaker.

Jacob served in the War of 1812 against Great Britain. Congress declared war on 6/18/1812, but for the next two years Great Britain was preoccupied with fighting Napoleon in Europe. When Napoleon was defeated early in 1814 and following U.S. attacks on Canada, Britain redeployed its forces and seriously threatened the United States for the first time. In all probability, it was this threat that caused Jacob Fazenbaker and many others to enroll in the army 8/11/1814 at Cumberland. Jacob was a substitute for one John Mathews. His pension record shows that he served as a corporal in Peter Connor's Company of Infantry, 1st Regiment Maryland Militia. Jacob's pay was $10 per month. Other soldiers also claimed to serve under Peter Connor, a local citizen. (The author's search of various data sources about veterans of the War of 1812 has failed to find Connor's service record. Recently, another family historian has suggested that the surname might have been recorded as "Colmer" rather than Connor, but this suggestion has not yet been pursued.)

British forces were already en route to Washington, DC. They ascended the Patuxent River in southern Maryland and from there 4,000 troops traveled by land to the nation's capital. At that time, President Madison was in the field with the American army. Still at the White House, First Lady Dolly Madison got word of the imminent fall of Washington, so she secured some of the most important White House papers and fled. On 8/24/1814, the British sacked and burned the Capitol building and the White House. During this time, the seat of the U. S. government was temporarily relocated to the small Quaker town of Brookeville in Montgomery County, MD.

Having achieved their mission in Washington, the British returned to their vessels, sailed back to the Chesapeake Bay and headed toward Baltimore. The British attack on Baltimore was repulsed 9/12/1814. Among the memorable historical facts about the attack on Baltimore is that Francis Scott Key composed The Star-Spangled Banner during the battle at Fort McHenry.

The same British forces then sailed around Florida to the lower reaches of the Mississippi River where they undertook the capture of New Orleans. The British threat thus removed in the East, Jacob Fazenbaker was discharged from the army 10/10/1814 at Baltimore. He had served only 61 days, but this was enough to qualify his wife Elizabeth for various benefits years later.

Britain and the U.S. signed a peace treaty at Ghent 12/24/1814, but communications were so poor in those days that the news did not reach all the combatants for some time. In particular, the British expedition in New Orleans precipitated a fierce battle on 1/8/1815. The British suffered huge losses. General Andrew Jackson led the U.S. troops, and his stunning victory over the British made him a national hero.

This branch of the Fazenbaker clan had strong connections with the military. Jacob's father George Fazenbaker was a soldier in the Revolutionary War on behalf of the British. Jacob's father-in-law Daniel Reckner served on the American side in the Revolutionary War. Jacob saw duty in the War of 1812. And at least three of his sons (John Fazenbaker, Andrew Jackson Fazenbaker, and George Washington "Jona" Fazenbaker), two sons-in-law (William Layton, husband of daughter Elizabeth Fazenbaker; and Peter Layton, husband of daughter Mary Fazenbaker), and five grandsons served in the Union army during the Civil War.

On 5/10/1817, Jacob sold to his brother Godfrey Fazenbaker the share of Military Lots 3858 and 3859 which Jacob inherited from his father. Godfrey paid $100.

At the time of the 1820 census, Jacob was head of a household of eight people. That census did not record the names of the people in the household other than the head, and it has not been possible to plausibly reconstruct the family at this time. The only adult male, age 26 to 44, was presumably Jacob; the only adult female, age 26 to 44, was presumably Elizabeth. In addition there were one male age 10 to 15, one male age 0 to 9, and four females age 0 to 9.

During this period, Jacob received money from certain estates, but the circumstances are now lost to history. For example, Jacob received money on 8/13/1822 from the estate of William Sigler. He received funds on 6/10/1823 from the estate of William Barnes, smithy, who had made his will 5/8/1821.

In the 1820s, Jacob and Elizabeth were increasing their family and in 1828 Andrew Jackson was running for president of the United States. Jackson had a very different background from the previous six men who had held the office of president. Unlike his predecessors, Jackson had not been born to wealth and gentility, but rather was an entirely self-made man. He had a rough-and-tumble background, gaining a reputation not only from his daring exploits in the War of 1812, but also from the duels he had fought. The wave of populism that swept the country caused a great deal of concern among those interested in preserving the status quo. Elizabeth and Jacob, who, like Jackson, was a veteran of the War of 1812, left a permanent record of their feelings about Jackson by naming a new son Andrew Jackson Fazenbaker.

Jacob and Elizabeth named their last son after President Washington. By the time Jacob and Elizabeth were middle age, they had named two sons after two of the seven people who had served as president up to that time. Evidently, Jacob and Elizabeth were proud patriots.

At the time of the 1830 census, Jacob was head of a household of 10 people. Like the 1820 census, the 1830 census did not record the names of the people in the household other than the head, and it has not been possible to reliably reconstruct the family at this time.

When Elizabeth's father Daniel Reckner died about 1829, his sons George Reckner and John Reckner were named administrators of the estate; they paid certain amounts to Elizabeth wife of Jacob Fazenbaker. For example, the fifth account was paid on 1/9/1833.

At the time of the 1840 census, Jacob headed a household of five people. While that census did not record the names of the people in the household other than the head, it did record their age brackets. In Jacob's household were: 1 male age 50 and under 60 (Jacob himself), 1 male age 10 and under 15; 1 male age 5 and under 10 (probably George W. "Jona," born in the early 1830s); 1 female age 50 and under 60 (probably Jacob's wife Elizabeth); and 1 female age 10 and under 15. Among Jacob's children, some, like son John had already formed households of their own. The census reported that one person in the household was involved in agriculture.

At the time of the 1850 census Jacob was no longer head of household. His wife Elizabeth, youngest son George W. "Jona," and he were living with the family of William Broadwater and his wife Rebecca (Green) in their home along Savage River. There were also four of William and Rebecca s children living in the household who were young adults. William and Jacob had served at the same time and at the same places during the War of 1812, and may have previously been close neighbors. History records that William was a sawmill owner along Savage River, but he was also remembered as a farmer.

Jacob died 3/22/1852. Beginning in 1855, Elizabeth applied for various federal benefits by virtue of Jacob's service in the War of 1812. Her pension applications confirmed much information of interest to family historians, such as Elizabeth's maiden name and marriage date. On 4/2/1855, Elizabeth filed a claim for bounty land which the Congress had recently made available. Among the files supporting her claim were affidavits submitted by 67-year-old William Broadwater, the sawmill owner and farmer with whom she and her husband were living in 1850, and James Smith affirming that Elizabeth was who she said she was. William said that he saw Jacob frequently, including when he served in the War of 1812. He contended that Jacob and Elizabeth had raised a large family of children in the neighborhood where William resided. Jacob had died a few miles from William's residence about three years previous, and Elizabeth still lived there. Charles Broadwater, age 71, filed an affidavit attesting that Jacob and Elizabeth had married at Elizabeth's father's home at "George's Hills." Both Charles and William made their marks on these documents. The pension file at the National Archives in Washington, DC, is not clear whether Elizabeth was awarded bounty land.

At the time of the 1870 census, Elizabeth was living in the household headed by 22-year-old grandson Jacob Shriver, son of daughter Mary (Fazenbaker) Shriver Layton, near Westernport.

In 1871, Congress passed a law that granted a pension to widows of veterans of the War of 1812, and Elizabeth first applied on 12/12/1871. To be eligible for a pension, the law specified that the applicant had to show that she was married to the veteran before 2/17/1815, that she remained in "widowhood," (i.e., she had not remarried), that the veteran had served a minimum of 60 days in the military, and that the claimant "remained loyal," presumably a reference to sympathies in the Civil War. Proving these claims required Elizabeth to gather a number of affidavits from various government officials over the next several months, such as by postmaster P. Goodwin of Barton, who served the area where Elizabeth lived. Uriah Duckworth, a Justice of the Peace, affirmed that he had seen the marriage records of Reverend William Shaw, which were then in the hands of A. B. Shaw, grandson of Reverend Shaw. The marriage date was 1/17/1808 (although Elizabeth had filed other papers contending that the date was 5/10/1809). Jesse Chaney and Henry Creutzberg affirmed Elizabeth's loyalty. These same two gentlemen would later assist Elizabeth's son George Washington "Jona" Fazenbaker, daughter-in-law Jennie Fazenbaker, and many other local veterans with their Civil War pension applications, and Chaney would board and employ Elizabeth's grandson William Fazenbaker. Elizabeth's application was approved and she received a pension of $8 per month.

She died in April 1880.

There remains much uncertainty about the number and names of the children of Jacob Fazenbaker and his wife Elizabeth. The following list is a compilation from a variety of sources: William Fazenbaker (born about 1810), John Fazenbaker (born within several years of 1810), Ann "Annie" Fazenbaker (born in 1817), Grace Fazenbaker (born about 10/5/1823), Elizabeth Fazenbaker (born about 1827), Andrew Jackson "Jack" Fazenbaker (born in the 1820s), Mary Fazenbaker (born in the 1820s), and George Washington "Jona" Fazenbaker (born in the 1830s). There could well have been other children.

Three daughters of this family married men with the surname Layton. Daughter Grace Fazenbaker married John Layton; daughter Elizabeth Fazenbaker married William Layton; and daughter Mary Fazenbaker married Peter Layton as her second husband. Whether there was any kinship between the Layton men is not known. Some or all of these men might be connected to the family of James Layton which resided in the vicinity. A Layton family historian would perform a welcome service by researching the Laytons.

Charles E. Hoye, in his 1938 Mountain Democrat article on the Fazenbakers, listed four sons of Jacob Fazenbaker--John, William, Alvey, and George--but omitted the name Jack (Andrew Jackson "Jack" Fazenbaker). No record of an Alvey of this generation has been found, but it may be appropriate to speculate that Hoye's source may have had Jack in mind, mistakenly applying a form of the name of one of Jack's own sons, Alban, with whom Jack's widow, Jennie, lived the last years of her life.

I have compiled a huge amount of information about thousands of descendants of George and Elizabeth Fazenbaker. My book, The Fazenbaker Family of Western Maryland was issued in May 1999. It has 500 pages of text, plus detailed references, an every name index, a number of photos and maps, being in all 853 pages. The book is available for sale. Interested parties should contact me by e-mail for ordering information. Soon, the Fazenbaker book will be available for reference at the Ruth Enlow Library in Grantsville, Maryland and the Library of Congress. Inquiries about western Maryland Fazenbaker families are welcome.

This page was revised November 26, 1999. For more information about western Maryland family history, visit Walt Warnick's Western Maryland Family History Home Pages.