BIOGRAPHY: Johan "Michel" Berger (Barger/Barrier)
BIOGRAPHY: The beautiful hills and valleys of the Alsace Region of France were home to the ancestors of Johan Michel Barrier, the first of his line to immigrate to the English Colony of Pennsylvania. The records suggest that his great grandfather was Francois Barrier, who was born ca. 1550 at St. Anteme, Auvergne, France and that his grandfather was Antoine Barrier, born ca. 1575 in the same town. His grandfather was Gregoire Barrier, born ca. 1610, and his father was also named Gregoire Barrier who was born in France. Further research is currently being done on these generations, but is subject to the bothersome obstacles of time, distance and language.
BIOGRAPHY: 1st Generation in America - Johan Michel Barrier & Catherine _____
Johan Michel Barrier was apparently the first of his line born outside of the Alsace Region of France. As with many people of that era, the spelling, and probably the pronunciation, of his surname evolved with time and change of location. It is believed that the first major change took place when his parents relocated to Germany. That is when the Barrier name is first shown to have changed, perhaps by common usage, to Berger, a name which is more suitable to the German language. We find the name continues to appear in various records in many forms.
The true ethnic origin of his ancestors in ancient times remains uncertain. Some of his descendants have described themselves as "Dutch" (a term which in America has been broadly applied to natives of any German speaking nation as well as the Netherlands). That notion may have originated with his birth in Germany or the time he and his family lived among German speaking people in Pennsylvania. Others maintain that he was a French Huguenot, which appears to be more accurate. The region of France where the ancestors of Johan Michel dwelled for several generation was, and still is, inhabited by descendants of the Gauls, the Franks, Germanic tribes and even the Romans. During his father's lifetime, many French Protestants were forced to flee religious persecution and take refuge among the Lutherans of Germany.
What is known is that Johan Michael (or Michel) Barrier (or Beryea, Berger, Barger, Barrier, Behringer, etc.) was born in Wurtemberg, Germany before 1714, and died in Rowan County, North Carolina on the 8th day of May 1773. He and his wife, Catherine, regardless of their ethnic origins, were Wurtembergers in the first half of the 18th century, and they were both listed in church records in Wurtemberg, as the parents of two sons, George H. and Abraham.
The family departed from Europe through the port of Rotterdam in the spring of 1752, and sailed to North America aboard the Phoenix, John Mason, Master, together with 339 other Germans. It is not known what became of their son Abraham, who may have proceeded the rest of the family to the new world, but when Johan Michel and his wife arrived in Philadelphia on 2 November 1752, they were accompanied by two sons, George Henry and John, who had been born in Wurtemberg in 1734 and 1739, respectively. The ship's passenger list shows his name as, "Michael (X) Behringer." The names of Michael's wife and children are not noted, but that appears to have been the usual practice. The family settled first in the vicinity of Conestoga Creek in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Before 1760, the same "Georg Henrich Birrer" and "Michael Behringer" who had arrived at the port of Philadelphia in 1752, were among those who followed the Great Wagon Road south from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. The surnames of father and son are shown differently here and would continue to be shown with various spellings, including Beryea, Berger, Barger, Barager, etc. in tax records, deeds and court records in Rowan County, North Carolina. The North Carolina historian, Robert W. Ramsey, confirms that Georg Henrich Birrer and Michael Behringer actually had the same surname. It should be noted that spelling was of little concern in Colonial America. Confronted with persons of foreign birth, clerks and local officials who entered names into public records, did the best they could to write what they thought they heard.
On the 8th day of May, 1773, Michael Behringer, the progenitor of the Barger family, died in Rowan County, at the age of 59, leaving his widow, Catherine and three sons. Two of them, George Henry Berger and John Berger, administered his estate. The youngest son, Jacob Berger, was the only child of Michael and Catherine to have been born in America.
BIOGRAPHY: 2nd Generation - The Children of Johan Michael Behringer and Catherine_____
BIOGRAPHY: 1. Georg Heinrich Birrer or Berger, who would come to be known as George Henry Berger (or Barger), was born 30 Jan 1734, in Vockenroth, Wurtemberg, Germany, and came to America, arriving in Philadelphia in 1752, as a young man of 18, together with his parents, (Johan) Michael and Catherine, and his younger brother, John.
BIOGRAPHY: 2. Abraham was born in Germany circa 1735.
BIOGRAPHY: 3. John Berger was born in Germany circa 1739. He came to America, arriving in Philadelphia in 1752, with his parents, (Johan) Michael and Catherine, and his older brother, George Henry. He married Anna Shart (Beshart?). John Berger died in North Carolina in 1824.
BIOGRAPHY: 4. Jacob Berger was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1754. He married Katherine _____, who was born in Pennsylvania circa 1755. Jacob Barger died in Sumner County, Tennessee in 1825.