29 September 2013

LEARN Family Reunion

Family Reunion - A venue to connect families; an occasion to hear and share stories about family members past and present - stories that make you laugh and stories that cause you to ask, "did that really happen?"

The LEARN family association, was established and charged with collecting family histories; documents; scrapbooks; and other family memorabilia - items, that together, would tell the LEARN family story.  Another important endeavor of the association is to encourage LEARN descendants to gather and honor their pioneer patriarch and their heritage.

For the descendants of the man known as John, the Pioneer, two weekends each year are devoted to family.  These reunions have been a tradition for over 100 years throughout North America.  And, this year, descendants and their families - including my husband and I - gathered at one or more of the LEARN family reunions held in August.  It was a time to catch up with each other's present lives while simultaneously imparting family folklore to the generations who come after us.

The first reunion, 10 August, was held in the very area that my 6th Great Grandfather - John, the Pioneer - and his family settled; the area, that is today, known as Tannersville, Pennsylvania.  The LEARN descendants gathered at Mountain View Park, Tannersville, Pennsylvania and the day was centered around a 'bring your own' lunch meal and family.  The event was loosely structured and those who wished, were taken on a guided tour of the site of the LEARN Tavern, Jacob LEARN's* homestead and ending with a cemetery visit - the final resting place of LEARN ancestors.  Compiled family genealogies and photographs, to include pictures of ancestral headstones were available on DVD at a minimum fee for any interested LEARN descendant.

*5th Great Grandfather

The second reunion, held in Cookport, Pennsylvania, the following Saturday, 17 August, was a bit more structured in that, a LEARN Family Association business meeting was conducted, and a program of singing, poetry and skits were performed.  There were also tables set up with photographs LEARN ancestors and other memorabilia.  Also available was information on cemeteries and LEARN homesteads for any who wished to go off on their own, on a self-guided tour.  Here too, the day was centered around a pot luck meal and family.  And, both reunions had 'white elephant' auctions to raise funds to defray the cost(s) of the reunion venue.

Displayed historic photographs of LEARN ancestors and memorabilia is a great way to encourage the younger generations to a physical connection to the past and to encourage the family 'elders' to share their stories.  A computer and scanner were also on hand to digitize photos, documents, etc.  These will be included in the next update of the LEARN family DVD.

The best offerings of both reunions were . . .
  • To have the compiled LEARN family history DVD available for purchase (I'll discuss this more shortly)
  • The chance to be with my LEARN 'cousins' - getting to know each other and to learn the history of their particular LEARN branch; to hear their family stories
  • To see pictures and memorabilia of many of the LEARN ancestors
My methodology of research is to follow President Ronald Reagan's oft quoted mantra of "Trust, but verify."  So, with that in mind, I set about reviewing the DVD of compiled LEARN genealogies.  What follows are some of my discoveries . . .

Two Differing Accounts of Origin

The DVD included two differing accounts of the origins of the LEARN family
  1. "The LEARNS came from Scotland to Virginia in the early part of the first British settlement in America.  The first John LEARN who married Cardenia was the first by that name to come to Monroe County, Pennsylvania in 1740.  It is believed that he came from Virginia and settled in what is now Tannersville, Pennsylvania, but was formerly called Learntown.  The site of their home is the present Pocono Hotel and was known as LEARN's Log Tavern . . . the records were burned which has made it very difficult to gather information.  John LEARN, his oldest son, George and George's wife were massacred by the Indians on 3 July 1781." Learn Family DVD 2012/13; Learn Pictures; Files from Keith Learn; Page 6 Learn1.doc
  2. "The LEARNS came to the Americas from Germany and initially settled in Philadelphia, then in 1750, he came to Northampton and helped found the village of Tannersville, northwest of Stroudsburg."Learn Family DVD 2012/13;
Neither account of Scottish or German origin included on the DVD provided source citations or supporting documents.  Further, the account of Scottish origin notes that "records were burned which has made it very difficult to gather information." 

So where did the information for either account come from?

Ship?  Port?  Date?

Reading through the information on the DVD, I have come across differing possibilities for the LEARN family's immigration to the British Colonies . . .
  1. Between 1720 and 1750 on the ship SPEEDWELL via Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts
  2. 3 September 1742 on the ship ROYAL JUDITH via Rotterdam from Gross-Winterheim, Germany (according to a permit filed on 17 April 1742)
Learn Family DVD 2012/13; Learn Book; Caspari Learn Family Tree; Register Report for Casper Learn; Generation 2; Johann Martinus Learn; Image 22 (page 3)

Trust, but verify

Nothing but possibilities . . . I don't believe that family historians just pulled this information from thin air; they found it somewhere, I just wish they had shared the source information.  There are too many inconsistencies right now for me to add this information to my family tree.

My Research Plan:
  • Locate permit (see #2: Ship?  Port?  Date?) - as I understand it, passenger lists are created at the port of departure (country of origin) on the ship; I assume then, that the permit referred to, would have been completed and filed in what is now known as Germany
  • Passenger lists - look for passenger lists for the ships mentioned in the compiled genealogies (SPEEDWELL and ROYAL JUDITH); checking 1720 - 1750
  • Port of arrival - using information gleaned from the above searches, confirm port of arrival; Massachusetts or Pennsylvania
This information, hopefully, will clear up the confusion of country of origin, date of immigration and port of arrival.

Surname Variations

Learn; Learner; Larner; Laren; Larne; Larned; Lerner; Lohnert

Forename Variations

Caspari; Casper

Johann; Johannes; John

Also Known As

John, the Pioneer, Learn

Location, Location, Location

The consensus among the majority of the compiled genealogies is that the LEARNS are from Katholisch, Heiligenstein, Pfalz, Bayern, Prussia (Germany)

Trust, but verify

I wanted to learn more about Katholisch, Heiligenstein, Pfalz, Bayern, Prussia but was not having much success locating any information when searching the major search engines online - google; bing; etc.  I then decided to reach out to the German Genealogy Community on FaceBook and learned the following . . .
  • 'Katholisch' means either the LEARNS were Catholic OR that they were from a location that was predominately Catholic
  • Katholisch has nothing to do with location; just the religion - in other words, it need not be typed / listed in the 'place' field of a genealogy program
  • Bayern - German for Bavaria - was never part of Prussia
  • Pfalz refers to the part of Bayern (Bavaria) that was physically separate from, but for a time politically associated with / protected by current Bavaria
Vital Statistics

My 6th Great Grandfather, Johann Martinus LEARN was born to Caspari (Casper) and Maria Catharina (nee Meyer) Lerner.  One family genealogy says that Casper and Maria Catharina married 23 May 1719 in Heiligenstein and that Johann was born 7 months later on 16 December 1719.  The genealogy account continues . . .

Johann's mother, Maria Catharina dies 7 May 1743 at the age of 40 years.  The second wife of Casper Lerner, Catharina Happenschuss, was born 20 March 1716 Heiligenstein and died there 29 January 1760.  And, Casper died 28 May 1773.

The family historian then notes . . .

Birth registrations of Casper and Maria Catharina Lerner cannot be located in the church register of Heiligenstein; presumably they came from a different municipality.  The date of the 2nd marriage (Casper Lerner and Catharina Happenschuss) cannot be retraced because of a significant gap in the church register.

Learn Family DVD 2012/13; Learn Book; Caspari Learn Family Tree; Register Report for Casper Learn; Generation 1; Casper Learn; Image 20 (page 1)

Trust, but verify

IF birth registration for both Casper LEARN and Maria Catharina Meyer could not be located, on what, did the family historians base their birth dates?

IF Casper LEARN's marriage to Catharina Happenschuss could not be retraced, on what did the family historians base date and location of the marriage?

My Research Plan:
  • Baptismal Records (children) - Casper and Maria Catharina (Meyer) Lerner had 14 Children.  And, Casper and Catharina (Happenschuss) Lerner had 4 children.  The genealogies provide names and birthdates of all the children; all born, it is said, in Heiligenstein.  A copy of Johann Martinus (John, the Pioneer) Lerner's was included on the DVD (more on this shortly)
I'll need to get familiar with what information is included in Catholic church records; hopefully I'll find something that will confirm birthdates of Casper and Catharina (Meyer) Lerner.
  • Marriage Records - while the genealogy accounts specifically address the fact that a record could not be located for Casper and Catharina (Happenschuss) Lerner, it does not provide source citation, nor documentation, for Casper and Maria Catharina (Meyer) Lerner either
I also need to become familiar with how marriages were recorded and documented within the Catholic church.  While the LEARNs were predominately protestant in the 'new world,' was this always so?  It is my limited understanding, at least during that era, that no one was married or baptized in the Catholic church without being of the Catholic faith.

Baptism - Johann (John) Martinus Lerner

While a copy of the baptismal record was included with the compiled genealogies on the DVD, other than a brief mention of the church of Heiligenstein, there was no further source information.  The copied document included the following typed translation . . .

Churchbook of Heiligenstein, 1719
"Baptism of Johann Martin, legitimate son of Casper Lerner and wife Catharina.  Witnesses were Johann Martin Koenig and Catherine, a married couple from Heiligenstein."

Trust, but verify

The handwritten document appeared to be written in German, and to say that mein Deutsch ist begrentz (my German is limited), is an understatement.  I again went to the genealogy community on FaceBook and learned that the document was actually in Latin; the translation . . . *

"Baptized in Heiligenstein Johann Martin, legitimate son of married couple Casper Lerners and Catherine.  Godparents Johann Martin Konig and Catherine, a married couple from Heiligenstein."

* Initially there was some discussion over the grammatical gender within the document, however, the translation typed on the document and the translation given by an independent source (online) were in agreement.

The genealogy community online also referred me to the LDS / Family History Center where they have a collection of micro films (5) for Germany, Bayern, Heiligenstein church records.

My Research Plan:
  • Visit www.familysearch.org; locate the 5 micro films and order them.  Visit the local Family History Center and go through each film with the goal to locate and obtain copies of Johann Martinus Lerner's baptismal record and that of each of his siblings; can further information be found on Casper Lerner, Maria Catharina Meyer and Catharina Happenschuss?
  • Who were the Koenigs (Konigs)?  Family?  Neighbors?  Close associates?  The identities of Godparents / witnesses are often genealogical clues.
While my research continues, I'll continue to connect with family and 'cousins' sharing stories about family members past and present; stories that make us laugh and stories that cause us to ask, "did that really happen?"  

And, I look forward to sharing more of my 6th Great Grandfather's story - settlement of the west . . . western Pennsylvania; an Indian massacre; and the American revolution - with you in future posts.


  1. Thank you and glad you enjoyed it Jimmy.

  2. This is so interesting! I just happened upon your website while looking up information on my ancestors. I've only just started and appreciate your research. Thank you!

    1. Linda, thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit and I hope you will visit again. Where does your leaf and branch fall on the LEARN family tree?

      Have a great week!

  3. Very interesting read. I've just learned that I'm a descendent of the Learn family.

    1. Carl, thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. Where do your leaves and branches fall on the LEARN family tree?

  4. So glad I found this post! I am a descendant of John and Caderina's youngest son, Adam. I think that makes John my 6th great grandfather. The way my records show, Adam had a son named Levi, who had a son named Adam, who had a daughter named Margaret, who had a daughter named Clara, who had a daughter named Mildred, who had a daughter named Marilyn, who had me! I am very interested in obtaining the DVD you spoke about and getting information on these reunions. How do I go about this?

    1. Janice, first let me apologize for not responding sooner; a lot happening this summer - namely, spending a lot of time with my eldest son (US Army soldier) who is to deploy this week into harms way.

      The Tannersville, Pennsylvania LEARN family reunion has been disbanded; the reunion in Cookport, Pennsylvania is still going strong. I am currently visiting with family, so will need to get back with you about contact information, etc.

      Take care and have a great weekend.

  5. Hello Cousins!! I found this page while looking for information on the sad event of the Learn family massacre. :(
    I am descended from Johannes Martinus Learn through his son, Jacob Learn (1758-1844). Jacob's daughter Rachel married John Teel STORM. Eventually, we get down into the HARTMAN family. My maiden name is Hartman, and I descend from Jonathan Hartman (b. 1792) who lived in the Tannersville / Hamilton area.

    1. Ann, thank you for visiting Family Preserves. It is always fun hearing from family cousins. I hope you enjoyed not only this post but others on the Learn family and will visit again.

      Have a blessed week.

  6. I am a direct descendant of John Learn (1779-1867), the two year old child who survived the Learn Massacre in Tannersville in 1781. He and his wife Elizabeth Freece are my paternal 4th great grandparents.

  7. Hi
    I am a direct descendant of Peter Learn who was killed during the war of 1812 (died 1814) which was documented in his eldest son Sgt Benjamin Learn's Upper Canada Land Petition. Jane Schooley was married to Peter Learn.

    1. thank you I am descended from Peter and jane Schooley as well through his son levi, whose son levi John married miranda Troup, their daughter Luretta Jane Learn is my great grandmother, from the family that went to Canada!

  8. Thank you for visiting Family Preserves and leaving a comment; I'm always happy to hear from fellow researchers and LEARN descendents.

  9. Very good research and summary. I suppose I'm part of this clan, as I attended the Learn Reunion in Weatherly each year of my youth. Grandfather was a Williams who settled in Delaware County via Weatherly via Stroudsburg area.

    1. Thank you Charles. So, glad you enjoyed your visit to Family Preserves. Ancestors from the other side of the family have been demanding my time, but I hope to soon get to my LEARN research.

    2. Thank you Tracy! I am replying has anon bc I have not a google acct. You have solved a huge mystery for us.I am the great Grandson of Luretta jane Learn daughter of Levi John, grand daughter of Levi Learn, great grand daughter of Peter B Learn and Jane Schooley. Thank you too you all A.C. Olson

    3. A.C. you're most welcome, glad my research could be of some help to yours and to ultimately solving a history mystery. Hope that you Christmas was merry and that this coming new year will be blessed!!

      Thank you for visiting Family Preserves and I hope you will visit again in the future.

  10. Hello I am a descendant of one of John's daughter. I would really like to talk with you! My email is jamesnoble6913@yahoo.com my phone number is 810 834 0921 hope to talk soon! James