In every genealogical history of a family, there appear mistakes.  Sometimes these mistakes are caused by faulty documents, sometimes by errors in research, and sometimes by faulty family traditions.  The problem with these myths is that they tend to become institutionalized as facts, hindering future research.  The following is an attempt to correct some of these myths and, perhaps, have a bit of fun along the way.


     For quite some time, genealogists tracing the history of Joseph Flory and his descendants in America have assumed that one had to be at least 21 in order to be baptized as a member of the Church of the Brethren.  Walter Bunderman, for example, tentatively dates the birth year of Joseph’s son Jacob as 1727 or before based on Jacob’s baptism at Conestoga on May 1, 1748.  Similarly he posits a birth year of 1732 or earlier for Barbara, whose baptism was on April 14, 1754.

    However, in a response to a query on the Flora email list serv several current members of the Church of the Brethren have pointed out this this was not the case. James Shuman indicates that one could have been baptized as soon as he or she reached “the age of accountability,” which was a “mental maturity” and not a physical age. Thus, it was possible for a person as young as 12-14 years of age to have been baptized. Although it was rare for anyone who had not reached his teen years to have undergone the ceremony, one respondent tells us that he was baptized at the age of 11. According to Shuman, people in their teens were often baptized just prior to their marriage.

   There is evidence that a Christian Stander (Stouden), who was aboard the Hope with Joseph Flory in 1733 and who settled with his father in Lancaster County near Joseph, was baptized at Conestoga at 17.

   What are the implications of this for Joseph Flory scholarship? Flory family historians have wondered why that if Jacob and Barbara are Joseph’s children and were born prior to 1733  their names do not appear on the passenger list of the Hope. Bunderman assumes that they were simply overlooked. Others have questioned whether the pair were really Joseph’s children after all. A third hypothesis now presents itself. Joseph or Barbara or perhaps both might not have been on the passenger list of the Hope because they may not have been born yet. Like Abraham, they could have been conceived in America!

    Because they could have been born in America, however, is not to say that they were or that either of the earlier hypotheses is necessarily incorrect. Jacob and Barbara may very well have been younger that Bunderman proposes, however.




     This myth first appears in Walter Bunderman’s Classic study on the Flory family, which appeared in 1948.  The confusion results from the fact that what seems to be a “J” appears between Joseph and Flory in one of the spellings of his name on the ship list of “The Hope” on which he sailed in 1733.  Gale E.S. Honeyman has pointed out and Richard Gethmann has confirmed that this “J” is not a “J” but a checkmark.  Joseph was apparently illiterate and his name was written down on the list by others.  This is why there are several variant spellings of  Flory on the lists. Space was left between his first and last name for him to leave his mark.  This mark, which Bunderman thought was a “J,” is the only extant “signature” of Joseph.  For further discussion of this subject and why no German of the period under any circumstances would have a middle name, see the section on this site on “names.”


    The impression that Joseph Flory, immigrant father of the C-Line, was born or lived in the Palatinate came from the fact that he probably boarded the ship “The Hope” there that was to take him to America.  However, he had little choice.  The Palatinate was the major staging area for all Germans (and many Swiss) who wanted to emigrate, no matter where in Germany they ultimately came from.  The situation is comparable to someone from Wisconsin having to travel to the East Coast in order to take an ocean liner to Europe.  In an entry in the I.G.I. of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, someone lists Joseph as having been born in “Schwarzw.,” presumably Schwartzwald, or “The Black Forest.”  Since the Black Forest is located near The Palatinate,  the submitter of this record was probably making the same false assumption, merely localizing it a bit. 

    It is unclear where the impression that Joseph came from Freinsheim originated. A check of the microfilm of the Kirchenbuch from Freinsheim for that period indicates that not only is there no record of a Joseph Flory as having lived in Freinsheim, there is no record of any Flory as ever having lived in the town.  The possibility that Joseph may have been an Anabaptist might explain why no record of him appears in the church book, which would have recorded only orthodox church members, not dissidents.  Still, without any record to support it, the supposition that Joseph came from Freinsheim remains highly suspect.

    At this point, then, we don’t know where Joseph was born or where he lived prior to coming over here.  All we know is that he came over on an English ship with immigrants from both Germany and Switzerland.



    When German immigrants arrived here, they often Anglicized their names or had their names Anglicized for them.  Johannes Flohri, immigrant father of the E-1 Line, was generally referred to as John Flory in American documents.  However, he was never known as “John C. Flora,” as his name appears in Walter Bunderman’s 1948 study.  The suggestion that it did derives from John Garner Flora of Easton, Pennsylvania, whose account of John Flory’s will of 1801 Bunderman paraphrases in his book.  As discussed above, Johannes or John as a German immigrant would not have ever used a middle initial.  Moreover, what Garner assumes to be a middle initial is not an initial at all.  In the aforementioned will, a copy of which is readily obtainable from the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, Pennsylvania, the name is written simply as “John Flory.”  There is a space between John’s first  and last names in which a circle appears in which an “x” is superimposed.  John Flory was illiterate and was simply making his mark on his will, similar to the mark he made on the ship list of the John and Elisabeth in 1754 when he first arrived here.  What Garner took to be an initial was, apparently, this circle with a mark in it.

     Garner’s description of the will’s contents is also highly inaccurate.  There are too many errors to discuss here.  It is sufficient enough to say that John Flory’s name on his birth records at Birkenau, Germany was Johannes Flohri, that he was not given a middle name at birth and that he never had a middle name.



    This is a subtle misconception that may be of interest only to those who study the E-Line.  According to Walter Bunderman, George Flory, one of the three brothers who immigrated here from Germany in 1754, followed his two brothers Johannes and Adolph from Philadelphia to Northampton, County, Pennsylvania, and then followed his brother (actually, half-brother) Adolph to Botecourt County, Virginia, where his daughter, Migy, married a Frederick Taylor on December 17, 1797.

     Bunderman’s source for locating George in Northampton County is a genealogical study by the Reverend John Fremont Keve, who was a descendant of George’s brother, John.  The problem here is that Keve was inaccurate and confused George with John, who actually was a resident of Northampton County.  In fairness to Keve, he was working with an immigration list that later turned out to be faulty. No known record, church, civil, or government exists indicating that George Flory ever lived in Northampton County.

     There is, indeed, a record of a George Flor in Virginia who had a daughter named Migy who married a Frederick Taylor.  However, recent research has shown that this George Flor was not one of the three 1754 brothers and probably was not part of any Flory family, he merely had a similar sounding name.  The idea that George was a resident of Virginia is as dubious as the thought that he lived in Northampton County.

     Apart from the ship lists of “The John and Elizabeth,” the ship on which the three brothers came to America, there is no record anywhere of George’s stay in this country.  And with good reason.  He seems not to have liked America very much, staying here for a very brief time.  There is a record of his having attended a baptism back in Birkenau in 1758, a scant four years after his arrival here.  He remained in Birkenau for the remainder of his life, having died there on October 3, 1777.  He was the only one of the three brothers to have been married when he came over here, and likely he was on a scouting expedition for his family.  If America proved suitable he would send for them.  It did not, and he did not.



    Dorothy Scott, whose grandfather’s sister Jessica Crowley married the Reverend Simon Flory, is the source for this icon breaker.  Apparently, it is a standing joke among professional genealogists that many families have stories about “Three Brothers who” go off to seek their fortunes together.  No one knows why there is this  tendency to see things in terms of threes–perhaps it stems from folk tale tradition.  Whatever the reason, even in those families where there were three brothers, there is a modern need to imbue that fact with a mystique that was never valid historically.

    To return to the previous myths relating to George, one of the three brothers who came here from Birkenau.  The tradition of “The three brothers of 1754” is a contemporary one.  George did not stay in America very long, and he was quickly forgotten about by the immediate descendants of Johannes and Adolph.  When Adolph left Pennsylvania to go to Virginia, the connection between relatives of the two remaining brothers, Johannes and Adolph, became even more tenuous. As we have seen, Keve in his history of the family did not realize that there were three brothers.  When the Bangor, Pennsylvania group got together for family re-unions at the turn of the twentieth century, they, too, were unaware that there were three brothers, even though this group formed the basic core of Johannes’ descendants.  Notes from one of their meetings indicate that, while someone had turned up references to Adolph in Northampton County records, the Florys in attendance were unsure as to what to do with him.  In fact, part of this particular re-union meeting was devoted to a discussion of whether or not Adolph was the father of Johannes!

    Genealogists warn us that when we hear of a tradition of “three brothers who” in our families to proceed with caution.  Obviously, such stories can have a basis in fact, but, more often than not, they are modern myths.


     (1) In early Modern English, an early symbol “þ,” which once stood for the sound “th,” became modified to resemble a “y.”  In documents, this modified “th” symbol (“y”) was often used as part of an abbreviation for “that” (“yt“), with the “t” raised.  The abbreviation of “the” as “ye” was especially common.  Misread today as “yee,” the spelling survives today in such pseudo-antiquities as “Ye Olde Antique Shoppe.”  Needless to say, any person of the period would have read the abbreviation aloud as “the” and not “ye.”

     (2) The present distinction between “i” for a vowel and “j” for a consonant was not established until the 17th century. “j,” in fact, is a relatively recent addition to the alphabet.  For a long time after the distinction in writing was made, the feeling persisted that “i” and “j” were one in the same letter.  Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary of 1755 alphabetizes  them together, and this practice continued well into the nineteenth century.  In some documents of the 18th and 19th century, we still occasionally see “i” for “j,” although the consonant in question would have been given its present day pronunciation.

     (3) The situation is somewhat similar for curved and angular forms of “u,” that is, “u” and “v.”  Both versions of the letter in England after the Norman Invasion of 1066 for a time were more or less used indiscriminately for both the vowel and the consonant.  Continental printers eventually began using “u” exclusively for vowel sounds and “v” for the consonant, and this practice was finally picked up by English printers. As with “i” and “j,” “u” and “v” words were often listed together in dictionaries and indexes well into the nineteenth century.  Some printers, following classical patterns, would use “v” at the beginning of a word, whether the sound in question was a vowel or a consonant, and “u” in the middle of a word.  All of these practices are purely graphic, and no question of pronunciation was involved.  A word spelled as “vnder,” for example, would have been pronounced as it is today, “under.”

    (4) As a footnote to (3) above, it should also be noted that the letter “v” was a late arrival in  the English version of the Roman Alphabet (even though the sound was present in the language), and it did not occur until the symbol was introduced by scribes after the Norman Invasion of England.  The sound “v” was initially represented not by “u” or “v,” but by the letter “f.”  The English had no difficulty distinguishing whether or not an “f” should be pronounced as “f” or “v.”  Pronunciation was determined by the environment in which the letter was placed.  “f” was always pronounced as “v” if it appeared between two “hard” sounds, and “f” if one of those sounds were soft.  The Anglo-Saxon word for “wife” was “wif” (pronounced “weef”) and the plural was “wifes” (“weevas”).  Occasionally early documents still use pre-Norman spelling practices, and you might see the word “river” spelled as “rifer,” even though there is no question that it has the modern pronunciation.

    (5) The sound of “h” was lost in late Latin, and the letter had no phonetic value in those Latin-derived languages that retained it in their spellings.  The influence of Classical Latin, however, caused French scribes to restore the “h” in the spelling of many words (“habit” “homme”), even though it was not pronounced.  It was sometimes inserted by English scribes in words supposedly of French origin even where it was not etymological.  Above we discussed the name “Hanliey.”  If an English scribe aboard the ship Hope assumed that Joseph Flory had a French name, he might well have added an “h” before one of his daughter’s names, transforming “Anneli” into “Hanliey.”

Flora Coat of Arms / Flora Family Crest

The following was found at       over the years I have seen (as I am sure many other researchers in the field have) many attempts to “bamboozle” people and to get them to part with money with these generic, extremely generalized “Family histories”.  They were around before the Web, and have continued (with increased vigor) since.  When looked at in the light of true, detailed family genealogies, their true ludicrousness beams out at you.   As regards this one, there has only been one Flora family connection to Italy that I have heard of … and that turned out to be a false lead as that Flora’s father had changed the family name to “Flora” from an Italian name completely different from Flora (or any variation).  One disappointed individual who had spent twenty years trying to find a true link to Italy … but who shortly after finding out his real family name, almost immediately was able to discover true family links in that country.

“TFlora Coat of Arms / Flora Family Cresthe Italian surname of FLORA was of the locational group of surnames meaning ‘the dweller by the woods where flowers are grown’. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land and indicated where he actually lived. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. The word flower was a conventional term of endearment in medieval romantic poetry, and as early as the 13th century it is also regularly found as a female given name. It was originally from the Latin personal name of FLORUS, borne by a saint active in the Auvergne during the 4th or 5th centuries, and the name FLORA was borne by a 9th century Spanish martyr. The name has numerous variant spellings which include FIORELLO, FIORI, FIORILLO, FIORINO, FIORITO, FIORAVANTI and FIORELLO. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are ‘i’ and ‘o’, the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form ‘o’ is more typical of southern Italy. A notable member of the name was Giuseppe FIORELLI (1823-96) the Italian archaeologist, born in Naples, whose excavations at Pompeii helped preserve the ancient city. As professor of Archaeology at Naples University and director of excavations (1860-75) he dug for the first time layer by layer and on a large scale so that completed buildings and blocks of the city could be explored and displayed. He was the Director of the National Museum at Naples from 1863, and was director general of Italian Antquities and Fine Arts from 1875 until 1896. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.”