Saturday, May 17, 2014

Introducing John Sommer, M.D.

Well, there's good news and bad news after my most recent trip to SLC. Good news: I was able to locate a will for Jacob Sommer of Moreland, PA written in 1823 and codicils added in 1824 and 1825, and sworn statements added in Feb. 1827 which confirms that timeframe as the time of death of the person we believe to be one and the same as Judge Jacob Sommer. Bad news: It does not mention a son named Jacob, so my theory that Jacob Sommer Jr. of Michigan could be the son of Judge Jacob Sommer was incorrect. Wrongwrongwrong. Sigh.

However there is also some new news: the will does name son John Sommer, practitioner of Physic. So!  A new character is in the picture. I have seen previous brief mention of a Dr. John Sommer, who married somebody named Louisa, and they had a daughter named Mary Adelaide Sommer who married Howard Newcomb Potts in 1851. This is significant because nearly 80 years previous, our direct ancestor, George Summers, bought property in New Jersey from a sheriff named Thomas Potts. That's a long stretch in between events, but it's still possible that the connection between the Sommer and Potts family might go back farther than we realize.

And here's some additional inconclusive news. The will mentions that if the son, John, was deceased without issue, then the estate of Jacob should go to "my father's brother's grandchildren." Well, Jacob's father, Johannes Sommer, had two brothers who also came to America, my 6th g-grandfather George Summers, which is our line that migrated to Michigan, and Martin Sommer who apparently remained in the area of Phildalphia.  Both brothers had grandchildren, so it's hard to know which is referred to in this will, but we might guess he refers to the relations who were in closest proximity to Moreland.

So now we wander into yet another new area of research. I've not yet been able to find much of anything about Dr. John Sommer, and would love to correspond with anybody who might have some ideas or clues.

Meanwhile I am still holding to my belief, which is only that, that Judge Jacob Sommer of Byberry (Moreland), Philadelphia, PA was related to my line. Why would I think that when there is still no documentation that supports the idea?  Well, there is no documentation in Philadelphia. Yet. The only reason I entertain this idea AT ALL is because a) the age for Judge Jacob at time of death matches exactly for the Jacob Sommer, son of Johannes Sommer in my line, and b) the story recounted in more than one county history in Michigan that refers to a judge of records in Philadelphia named Jacob Sommer. If not for that, I would have no reason to look or consider this person at all. Why in the world would multiple accounts of the Summers family in Michigan refer to a Judge Jacob Sommer in Philadelphia if there were not some connection?  Mixed up as the details in the Michigan history are, I keep thinking there must be somewhere a nugget of truth. It's a matter of weeding out fact from fiction, and I'm not yet ready to consider Judge Jacob as a fictional character to this family's history. Maybe I'm just stubborn :-/

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