My paternal 4th great-grandfather was John Lightcap (abt 1778 – aft 1864), husband of Mary Chamberlin. Identifying his parents has proven frustratingly difficult. There is no proof of parentage, only supposition. So I’m tackling the problem from another direction and researching other Lightcap families in the surrounding area near his place of birth. John was either born in Pennsylvania or New Jersey (records vary), **probably** in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, or Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
My research uncovered a man named Aaron Leightcap/Lightcap (1817-1900). I still haven’t determined any family relationship, but find his story interesting.
Obviously, Aaron is not the same generation as John. What first intrigued me were the names of his children with his first wife: William, Mary Jane, and Levi. John and Mary also named three of their children William, Mary Jane, and Levi. Coincidence? Possibly. Intriguing, nonetheless, since John’s children would be contemporaries of Aaron.
Then I learned a bit more of Aaron’s story, and it struck me as one of unspeakable tragedy and perseverance.
Aaron was born 09 November 1817 in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. Records have his named spelled as Leightcap up until 1866. Between 1850-1852, he married a woman named Catherine, who was born 14 December 1827 in Pennsylvania. Three children soon followed: William Henry (b. 11 July 1853), Mary Jane (b. 30 December 1855), and Levi (b. 01 September 1858).
In October 1863, the Leightcap household was dealt a cruel blow. On 08 October 1863, the oldest son William Henry died. Two days later, Catherine died. Mary Jane and Levi died on October 19 and 20th, respectively. In less than two weeks, and at age 47, Aaron lost his entire family. I don’t know what caused their death, but obviously some sort of tragedy. His wife and children are buried at Saint Lukes Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery in Ferndale, Bucks county, Pennsylvania.
A little over two years later, on 16 January 1866, he married Mary (Bean) Messer, twenty-three years his junior and widower of Pvt. William Messer. William died 09 February 1863 in Newbern, North Carolina, while serving in the 174th Regiment, Co. F, Pennsylvania Infantry (Drafted Militia). William and Mary had one daughter, Anna Louisa (b. 10 November 1861). For some strange reason, most secondary sources list her name as Anna Maria, but all primary sources I’ve reviewed list her name as Anna Louisa.
Together, Aaron and Mary had nine children: Andrew, Wilson, Sarah Elizabeth, Harvey, Erwin, Mary Ellen, Laura, Horace, and Bertha Stella. Aaron died 27 June 1900; Mary died 09 December 1915. Both are buried at Nockamixon Union Cemetery in Ferndale. Their headstones have the last name listed as Lightcap.
While reviewing William Messer’s Civil War pension file (found by my mother- thanks Mom!) on Fold3.com, I came across an 1867 document regarding Mary’s marriage to Aaron. Within the same document, Aaron’s name appears as Lightcap and Leightcap.
Here is a transcription of the document’s text:
State of Pennsylvania
County of Bucks
On this twelfth day of June A.D. 1867 before the subscriber a Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Bucks personally appeared the Rev. D. Rothtrock to me well known and a credible person who being duly affirmed according to law declares that Aaron Lightcap and Mary Messer wereby him united in the Bonds of Matrimony on the sixteenth day of January A.D. 1866 at his residence in the Township of Nockamixon County and State above named, and that he was at that time a Minister of the Gospel duly authorized by law to celebrate marriages. He further says that the following is a full and correct copy of the record of said marriage as kept by him and that said record is now in his custody:
Mr. Aaron Leightcap of Nockamixon, & Mrs. Mary Messer of the same place were by me united in the bonds of Holy Matrimony, the 16th day of January A.D. 1866.
Minister of the Gospel
Affirmed and subscribed before me the day and year first above mentioned.
Witness my hand the day and year aforesaid
Josiah Stover J.P.