by Roger Cramer
revised June 1997
I have been unable so far to find birth documents showing Abraham Motter (1828-1895) is
the son of Balthaser and Catherine Ritzman Matter, but I do have overwhelming evidence
that Abraham, my 2nd great-grandfather was their son.
1. There are documents showing Balthaser had "known" sons named Abraham and
Leonhart. However, in all my contacts with researchers or those with documented
information, there is very little mention of Abraham.
2. There are documents showing that parts of the Matter family moved "west"
Dauphin Co., PA to Stephenson Co., IL. which is the next county to Ogle Co. where
Abraham lived and died.
3. The 1860 Illinois census lists Abraham and Elizabeth Motter having a son, Nathaniel,
born in Pennsylvania, and other children born in Illinois. The tombstone of Abraham Motter
here (Ogle Co., IL) lists two children, Nathaniel (1849-1871) and Sarah (1852-1870). They
are buried next to their parents. There is a record at St. Peters (Hoffman) Reformed
Church in Lykens Township, PA of a son, Nathaniel, born to Abraham and Elizabeth Smeltzer
Motter on July 11, 1849. This church is in the same area that the Balthaser and Catherine
Ritzman Matter family lived.
4. I have a copy of my great grandfather Riley Motter's death certificate showing
Abraham and Elizabeth Smeltzer Motter as his parents. It lists them as coming from
Pennsylvania. Riley Motter and his wife are buried near Abraham Motter, his wife and two
of their children in the same cemetery.
5. Leonard (Leonhart) Motter is buried in the North Grove Evangelical Cemetery about
one mile from the North Grove Christian Cemetery that Abraham is buried in on the same
road. Both cemeteries are located in Ogle Co., IL. The date of Leonard's birth (March 8,
1826) on his tombstone matches what is documented in Pennsylvania and there are documents
showing him to be the son of Balthaser and Catherine Ritzman Matter. There is also
information documented that Leonhart moved to Illinois. His wife's obituary indicates they
moved to Illinois in 1859.
6. I found a May, 1895 Leaf River, IL newspaper obituary of Abraham Motter's death. It
states he was born June 3, 1828 in Lykens Township, Dauphin Co., PA and died May 23, 1895
near Adeline, IL in Ogle Co. He was married to Elizabeth Smeltzer in 1848 and had eight
7. I found a February, 1916 Leaf River, IL newspaper obituary of Elizabeth Smeltzer
Motter's death. It states that she was born in Dauphin Co. coming to Maryland Township,
Illinois in 1853 with her husband, Abraham. Maryland Township is in Ogle Co. but very near
Stephenson Co. She died February 25, 1916. Census records indicate that their second
child, Sarah, was born in Illinois in 1852 so they may have come earlier to Illinois.
8. I located Abraham's military records from the State of Illinois. He served in Co. A
of the 64th Illinois Regiment during the Civil War from December, 1863 to May, 1865. He
was a prisoner of war at some time during his service. His records state that he was
originally from Dauphin Co., PA. The records list his occupation as blacksmith.
9. My grandmother received a "family tree" from Guy Edwin Matter researching
the Matter family back in the late 1950's. Guy Edwin Matter was considered the
"family genealogist" at that time. He concluded that Abraham was the son of
Balthaser Matter although he was unable to locate his birth record. The connection to
himself also appears in this family tree. I found an article in the May 22, 1959 issue of
the Leaf River, IL "Register" newspaper re: someone from the Pennsylvania
Matter family asking for descendent information from the Abraham and Leonard Motter
families. This request for information came from Guy Edwin Matter as I have copies of some
of his letters. This article also has information on a 1958 Matter family reunion held in
Millersburg, PA and includes information about a message from cousin President Eisenhower
to the reunion committee.
10. The1850 PA census provides some other clues. There is a record of Balthaser and his
wife Catherine Matter living in Lykens Twp. on page 398. There are children listed for
Balthaser and Catherine as Sarah and Edward, younger siblings of Abraham and Leonard, with
ages that check out from prior research. It also shows Abraham Motter living with the
Thomas Battorff family on page 397. Thomas Battorff was a blacksmith and it also lists
Abraham as a blacksmith so it is surmised he was learning a trade with the other family as
was often done. NOTE: Military records and the 1860 Illinois census list his occupation as
blacksmith. Because of closeness of census page numbers, it appears he was living only a
few houses away from Balthaser and Catherine. His age is listed as 21 which would be
correct if the census was taken before his birthday in June. The obituary for Abraham
shows him being born in Lykens Twp.
Abraham was married by this time (m. 1848) to Elizabeth Smeltzer. There is a record of
Elizabeth living with Michael Smeltzer with a child Nathaniel, age 1 on page 405 of the
Mifflin Twp. census record. Her age of 22 and the baby's age check out with other
research. It appears Elizabeth and baby were living with Elizabeth's father, Michael,
while Abraham was learning a trade with the Batdorff family. Elizabeth's mother had
recently died. We know that Nathaniel was their child because there is a record at St.
Peter's Church in Pennsylvania and he is buried next to his parents here in Ogle Co., IL
with a birth date of 1849 on the grave marker.
I have been building a large database of many names that originated or lived in Dauphin
Co. and am interested in helping others. I have about
10,000 names so far. I have on my web site links to many PA genealogy sites including
the Dauphin Co. site . My main family lines include
MATTER, MOTTER, LEBO, SMELTZER, RITZMAN, GEBHART, SCHOTT, ROMBERGER, SCHUPP, SHOOP,
WEISS but I have information on many other family lines also.
web site: http://members.aol.com/rogercubs/index.html