Engle Family History


Lancaster County








Reuben Engle Hershey, 1913 (age 49) Anna Shelley Engle Hershey, 1913 (age 50)


Phyllis Hershey Carlson
(transcription by Julia Frey Taylor)

The Noah Garber Hershey family was one of the many Brethren in Christ families who migrated from Pennsylvania to Kansas in March 1879. They joined a group of about 300 people at the Marietta Railroad Station to travel where only a few of them had been. Through diary excerpts, one can glimpse how difficult it must have been to leave relatives and neighbors who had gathered to bid them farewell. They not only left these people behind, but also the fertile lands which had nurtured them and from which their ancestors had come in the early and mid 1700s.(1)

Reuben Engle Hershey, along with his parents, Noah Garber and Barbara Lindemuth Hershey, joined this large Brethren in Christ migration from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Dickinson County, Kansas. The railroad company, eager to see the “West” settled, made travel financially attractive and purchase of land available for good prices. For the promise of good living, and plenty of land for their children, the long and intimidating rail trip was endured.

At fifteen years of age, Reuben was the oldest of the seven Hershey children on the trip. The family first settled in the Belle Springs community south of Abilene, Kansas, where land was cheap and plentiful. Noah Hershey paid $160 for 40 acres of land; assumed mortgages; and bought more acreage.

The following details are selected from Reuben Hershey’s 1885 diary and Anna Hershey’s 1886 diary, as transcribed in 2000 by their granddaughter, Julia Frey Taylor. She also transcribed Reuben’s 1888 diary. Although the entries sometimes lacked punctuation, Julia faithfully transcribed their writings.

Anna Hershey's 1886 diary (left) and Reuben Hershey's 1885 diary (right). Click on image for sample of Anna's entries.
Photo credit: Phyllis and Bob Carlson.

Reuben’s 1885 Visit to Pennsylvania

Ties “back East” remained so strong that within five years of Kansas living, twenty year old Reuben, accompanied by his sister Annie, returned to Pennsylvania for an extended visit. He made the trip in midwinter when fields were frozen and farm work was limited. In 1885, in a small maroon diary, he recorded his travels in Lancaster County, and his subsequent farm work upon returning to Kansas. It is not clear when Reuben’s visit to Pennsylvania began, but his first entry was as follows:

Thursday, January 1 (1885)Today we were at Grand Mother Engles. Aunt Mattie Engle also was married. The weather, to day, was cloudy. Yesterday we returned from Philadelphia.Friday, January 2 (1885)Today before noon we were at Uncle Jacobs; but, after noon Sister and I visited at Uncle Jacob and Christian Nissleys.Sunday, January 11 (1885)This morning Sister and I attended Crossroad meeting; after meeting we visited Jno. Engles below Mt. Joy.Monday, January 12 (1885)This morning Sister and I returned to Grand Mother Engle; in the afternoon I helped the Uncle Engles to sever chaff from the wheatSunday, January 18 (1885)Today visited Uncle Benj. Garbers, and Cousin Glenn Brubakers, and also attended church at the place) known as Kraybill’s M. (Meeting) house. Today the weather was cold, and the roads rough.Wednesday, January 21 (1885)
This morning from Clayton Nissleys we went to visit Christ Hersheys; from there we visited Cousin Eli Nissleys, and after that to Henry Bosticks; and from there we went to Uncle Daniel Engles, were there during the night.Monday, January 26 (1885)Today the weather was cold and blustry. Today we visited Cousin Andrew Nissley and Grand Uncle Henry Engles. Two of Sam Musser’s children were burried.Friday, February 6 (1885)To day the weather was cold and windy. We attended Uncle Leanders’ sale, and stayed there during the night.Thursday, February 26 (1885)Today Grand Mother Engle had sale; it amounted to about $1900. Sale was very dull. The attendance of the sale was very large.Sunday, March 1 (1885)Today the weather was very inclement; a rainy day. Uncle (Albert) is very sick; three doctors, being present, they operated upon him.Friday, March 6 (1885)Today Uncle Albert Engle was buried; aged, 26 yrs., 10 mos. and 18 days. Today I was 21 years of age. The weather was very moderate today. On the 3rd of Sept. Grandmother’s birthday is.Tuesday, March 10 (1885)Today we started for Kansas at Marietta at 10:00; left Harrisburg 1 o’clock P.M. Hagerstown about 5 P.M.

By March 13 Reuben and Annie arrived back home in Kansas. Farm work was in full swing and from March through November, Reuben writes of farm chores: butchering, plowing, hauling manure and straw, planting corn, church love feasts and experience meetings. Following are a few examples:

Sunday, March 15 (1885)Today I attended meeting at Christian Hoffmans. We had some visitors after meeting; Uncle Geo. Herrs, Uncle Miltons, Sabe Hershey, Jacob Engle, and others.Tuesday, May 5 (1885)Today we took cattle and hogs to town and Father went along with them to Kansas city.Friday, May 8 (1885)This eve miss--Baumgardener poisoned herself. Today I was planting corn.Saturday, May 30 (1885)Today we attended Bro. Jesse Engles Love feast. The weather was very warm for the occasion, and the attendance good.

Sometime in the spring of 1885 Anna Shelly Engle moved to Kansas with her parents, Martha Engle Shelly and John Musser Engle. Anna was Reuben’s second cousin through the Engles, and third cousin through the Shelly family; as Martha’s parents were David Shelly and Susannah Engle Shelly. It was common among the Brethren in Christ at that time to marry within the “brotherhood,” so marriage among second and third cousins was common. Occasionally marriages were also with first cousins.

In a characteristically terse style, Reuben made the following entries about their wedding and the beginning of their three month wedding tour to Pennsylvania.

Thursday, November 26 (1885) Today was Thanks giving I also was married to Miss Anna S. Engle. The weather before noon cloudy after noon both cloudy and rainy.Friday, November 27 (1885)Today noon we started from Abilene on our wedding tour and went as far as Valley Falls.(2) The weather today was cloudy.

Reuben’s diary of their trip continued through the end of 1885; Anna’s diary began in 1886. Her note about their wedding was written in the back of her 1886 diary.

Photo credit: Phyllis and Bob Carlson

Anna. S. Engle was my name but Jesse Engle (minister) made it Anna S. Hershey on the 26th day of Nov. 1885 before a large audiance (sic) at Father in law Hershey’s. The house was entirely full. That is the lower part. My Husband’s name is Reuben E. Hershey from Belle Springs, Dickinson Co. Kansas.

The frontispiece of Anna's 1886. Click on image to see enlargements.
Photo credit: Phyllis and Bob Carlson.

Friday, January 1 (1886)This diary is being commenced by me, Anna S. Hershey this day. As we are on our wedding tour this morn we find ourselves at Aunt Lizzie (Sind) and thus where we were all night previous. A very pleasant morn like spring. I was working at a tidy.(3) Monday, January 4 (1886)This morning we (slipped) from Cousin S. Berg to Cousin Benj. Berg. After lunch to Cousin Abe Staufers where we stayed overnight. It rained all day. I was doing some knitting. Rained very heavy in eve. At night cleared off.Wednesday, January 13 (1886)This morn. I was kniting and started a kushion with cashmere patches. We had Apple dumpling for dinner. In the after noon Aunt Fannie went to Uncle Elias to see the new born niece. I was still patching was with Aunt Mary a while.Thursday, January 28 (1886)Today we were at home and I was making towels. Reuben hemmed a dishcloth and helped Uncle Harry to thresh a tower or so. In the eve Father and we went to Uncle Daniel Wolgamuth’s eve meeting. Weather cloudy and rainy. Stayed overnight at the same place.Monday, February 22 (1886)Today Aunt Fannie and I prepared to go home to Kansas. We baked and cooked etc. This eve we packed our trunk and box and so forth. Weather beautiful. Are starting for home tomorrow.

Anna’s and Reuben’s Lives in Kansas,
as recorded in 1886 Anna’s diary

Friday, February 26 (1886) This morn we arrived safe home from Pa. visit. Found folks all well and in good cheer. And we are having a good breeze. I was sewing in the after a little.Sunday, April 4 (1886)I wish I was at Home. I was somplace Who knows where. Bro David’s and Bro Epraim’s paid Father’s a visit. We were at Union Valley S.H. meeting. Weather Pleasent, sunshine snow melting. A diary ought to be filled, filled.Wednesday, April 14 (1886)This A.M. I baked pies for our flitting.(4) P.M. helped Susan K to iron my pillowcasses. Thence put meat in sacks. Got things ready for moving etc. W. windy but warm.Thursday, April 15 (1886)Today we moved to 4 miles north of the city of Hope, Ka. A desireable day. Mild.Friday, April 16 (1886)Mother and I getting the house ready to fix up. I [put] away the things. Mother washed out the rooms. Cloudy. part of the time. In the morn. Reuben and I planted the early cabbage, and put away our meat.Thursday, May 13 (1886)Today I ironed in the morning. Reuben churned. P.M. I fixed the butter for market and after went to Hope. That is Reuben did. W. very close and warm.Monday, November 22, (1886) This A.M. I washed. P.M. I helped Reuben to skin a cow etc. W. nice windy P.M. Wednesday, December 1 (1886) Today we killed two hogs. Mr. Skeller was our butcher. Got done with every thing before so very late. W. cloudy most all day without wind. Thursday, December 2 (1886) Today I fried up the beef steaks, pork steaks, and ribs and boiled up the skins to soap of butchering, and so on. W. getting colder still. Friday, December 3 (1886) Today I fried up the sausage and baked pies etc. I got done in nice time. Also boiled another kettle full of soap. W. cold commenced to snow toward evening. Monday, December 7 (1886) Today I was sewing all day made a little gown for etc. W. clear but still cold.

Other activities included: "four strange men for dinner"; "I was putting back the things Reuben used"; "after tea I was in garden"; "I am fixing holes for Rebuen's sack string, fifty in number"; "we attended experience meeting at Benj. B. Engle's"; help prepare for love feast at Bro Book's"; "finished working up some patches for a small quilt etc."; and "boiled my soap stuff together."

Friday, December 24 (1886) Today I baked the Christmas cakes, got the butter ready, ironed, cleaned a rooster, and done all the Saturday work. Stuffed a rooster after supper. Then I got sick. W. cold.Saturday, December 25 (1886)This morn about two o’clock we were blessed with an heiress. In the morn. Reuben sent for Mother Engle. came home between one and two o’clock. P.M. Benjamin’s were here. A pleasant Christmas. Mattie Stauffer stayed with me till mother came. They had the roast I prepared.

Several times in her diary Anna had referred to sewing, once she referred to making a small quilt; another time she had made a “pad," but she didn’t specifically state she was sewing for a baby. She also reported once she was feeling well. But other than those statements, there were no direct references to being pregnant.

Even though generations later these firsthand accounts are read from different perspectives, one cannot help but feel a connection to the past through the struggles and labors of these farming people and their efforts to make a living while being faithful to their religious traditions.

The above diaries are detailed with names of people, farm and house activities too numerous to mention in this brief summary. It is hoped that these accounts might encourage others to write stories based on records, journals and letters, especially those whose ancestors were from the period of the great migration of 1879.

Phyllis Hershey Carlson
April 2005

Rhoda Estella Hershey, born 30 Jun 1888, died 5 Mar 1953 in Upland, California.  Married John Dodds, 1938. Engle Noah Hershey, born 4 Apr 1890  Noah Lincoln Hershey, born 17 Sep 1895 Charles Everett Hershey, born 16 May 1892. Elizabeth J. (Betty) Hershey, born 25 Aug 1906 Anna Shelly Engle, born 10 Feb 1863 near Mount Joy, PA, died 10 Feb 1933 in Upland, CA.   Married Reuben 26 Nov 1885 in Abilene, KS. Lois Engle Hershey, born 5 Dec 1904 Reuben Engle Hershey, born 6 Mar 1865 in Florin, Lancaster Co., PA, died 24 Feb 1941 in Upland, CA.  Married Anna 26 Nov 1885 in Abilene, KS. Paul Engle Hershey, born 20 Mar 1900, died 29 Jan 1919 in Dickinson Co., KS

The earliest known photograph of Reuben & Anna Hershey's family, taken in 1913 in Abilene, Kansas. Anna was 50, and Reuben was 49, that year.

Back row (L-R): Charles, Lynn, Engle, Rhoda
Front row (L-R):
Elizabeth (Betty), Anna, Lois, Reuben, Paul


(1)     The Hersheys immigrated to North America in 1717; the Engles in 1754.

(2)      Valley Falls, Kansas: a journey of more than 100 miles from Abilene.

(3)     Tidy: an ornamental protective covering for the back of a chair or sofa.

(4)     Flitting: moving house (originally a Scottish term)

Click here for lists compiled by Reuben of people and places visited on his 1885 trip to Pennsylvania, and on his wedding trip with Anna.

© Phyllis Hershey Carlson & EngleFamily.Net, 2005
Last modified: September 11, 2005