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By William Frazier Furr
October 1998

Who were the ancestors of Heinrich Furrer and Russena? To date, I have not found a definitive primary source document that answers this question. Over the years there has been much speculation.

In his book, History of the Widenhouse, Furr, Dry, Stallings, Teeter, and Tucker Families (Greensboro, North Carolina: privately published, 1950), Rev. William Thomas Albright writes about Heinrich Furrer's origins but does not speculate on or identify Heinrich's ancestors. He writes:

According to the best information I can obtain, Henry Furr, who came from Germany to America about 1758, was the first or one of the first of the name to come to this country. I believe he was the first, as all the Furrs I have found trace back to him.

He was born in Germany about the year 1717, married there, and landed at Charleston, South Carolina, about 1758, after a tedious voyage of several years. Soon after with his wife and infant son whose birth occurred during the voyage, he made his way by wagon to Cabarrus County, North Carolina, becoming one of the earliest pioneers. The History of North Carolina Biography says he secured a tract of land on Cold Water Creek, six miles southeast of the present site of Concord, where he spent the remainder of his life. But there is a family tradition that the later years of his life were spent about a mile up Dutch Buffalo Creek from Georgeville. Here he died and is buried in a family graveyard near Dutch Buffalo Creek on the north side, close to the Teeter bridge. This is only a few miles from Cold Water Creek, and is well authenticated as his burial place. His grave is marked with a natural flat granite stone about three feet long, on which has been scratched the date "1777" or "1779." It is difficult to tell whether the last figure is a seven or nine. I believe this is the date of his death, and if it is, he lived to be only about sixty or sixty-two. I have no information about his wife, whom he married in Germany.
Subsequent to the publication of this book, Rev. Albright and others continued researching the origins of Heinrich Furrer. One of the documents they found was the book, Lists of Swiss Emigrants in the Eighteenth Century to the American Colonies, compiled and edited by Albert B. Faust and Gaius M. Brumbaugh, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1968 (reprint of the 1920 edition). This book includes the following:


Heinrich Furrer, from Stagen, who really belongs to the Gossau district, born November 13, 1691. He has with him his wife Susan Baumann, born January 24, 1692 and the following children:
Felix, April 1, 1720.
Hans Jacob, October 4, 1722.
Susanna, December 31, 1724.
Hans Felix, July 12, 1729.
Anna Maria, October 8, 1731.
Barbara, May 15, 1735.
A son Hans, born October 10, 1717, is in the Dutch service, the father wrote to him from Rotterdam that he should also make the journey with them, but he did not go.


August 29, 1734
Bernhardt Furer, September 19, 1697.
Babelj Zuppinger, August 8, 1697.
Heinrich, July 6, 1631 [sic].
Hans Rudolff, January 27, 1737.
May 13, 1743
Ulrich Furer, Ulrich Furrer's son, baptized on August 18, 1720.

Based on this information, Rev. Albright concludes the following in his second book, Supplement to the History of the Widenhouse, Furr, Dry, Stallings, Teeter, and Tucker Families (Greensboro, North Carolina: privately published, 1956). Note: Rev. Albright wrote that Bernhardt Furer and his wife left Switzerland on August 29, 1743, but the source document for his information (Lists of Swiss Emigrants in the Eighteenth Century to the American Colonies) shows this date as August 29, 1734.

There is no very definite hint or lead as to which one (if either) of the above might be our Henry I. However, since these are the only Furrers who are on record as coming into our country through Charleston, and since by a wide-spread tradition two or three brothers came over about the same time by way of Charleston, it would seem that the three Furrers above (Heinrich, born Nov. 13, 1691; Ulrich, baptised Aug. 18, 1720; Bernhardt, born Sept. 19, 1697) were either three brothers, or two brothers and a nephew. If they were all brothers, their father's name was Ulrich but if Heinrich and Bernhardt were brothers and Ulrich a nephew, Ulrich's father (Ulrich) was a brother to Heinrich and Bernhardt.

I believe that Heinrich Furrer, born Nov. 13, 1691, is our Henry I and the ancestor of the Carolina Furr families. (At this time North and South Carolina were together.) The tradition has it that sometimes two and sometimes three brothers came over; and it is most likely that Heinrich, born November 13, 1691, and Bernhardt, born Sept. 19, 1697, were brothers, and that Ulrich, baptized Aug. 18, 1720, was their nephew.

If this Henry, born Nov. 13, 1691, is our Henry, he would be nearly 78 years old in 1769 when he made his will, a good age for that day and for doing the things he had done.

The other Henry (son of Bernhardt), born July 6, 1731, would be only 38 years old in 1769 when Henry's will was made; and since John and Paul both seem to have been of age when the will was made, that would make this Henry only about 15-16 years old when married. Therefore, it seems Henry, born 1691, is our Henry and the ancestor of the Carolina Furrs.

After discussing Heinrich Furrer's children, Rev. Albright continues to speculate:
It will be noted that the family of six children and the wife Susan Baumann are not the same as the family I have named above. My theory is that the first wife died soon after they reached Carolina in 1743; and the children had either died or were of age and perhaps married and left to settle elsewhere by the time Henry I reached Cabarrus County in North Carolina in 1758 (according to tradition). The youngest child of the first family (Barbara) would be 23 years old in 1758. In the meantime, Henry Furr married the second wife (Russena), who was the mother of the family I have named. I have no information on Russena except what he said in his will when he named her as one of the executors as "my loving wife Russena." This explanation fist in with the fact that the second wife Russena seems to have been several years younger than Henry, as he named her with Valentine Weaver as executors of his will in 1769. Also she mothered Henry II in 1762; and I think there were one or two other children after Henry II but I have no proof of this.

Carolina had been extensively advertised in Switzerland by a Mr. J. P. Purry, and the emigrant "fever" had caused several hundred colonists to settle about 28 miles north of Savannah, Ga., in 1732. The settlement, called Purrysburg, was found to be unhealthy and many of the colonists died and others moved away; and the town was abandoned after some 5o or 60 years. Henry Furrer was not one of Purry's colonists; but since Purry sent over about 600 Swiss colonists by 1739, no doubt Henry Furr knew of the colony. My opinion is that Henry Furr lived at Purrysburg a while, during which time his family got away from him as stated above. At the site of Purryburg [sic], there is a large cemetery with many unmarked graves, some of which could be Furr graves. It is possible that Henry Furr might have lived a while in or near the German settlement of Orangeburg, S. C., before going to North Carolina; or he might have been among those immigrants who settled in the Congaree and Wateree area in South Carolina between 1740 and 1755.

The above is my conclusion after thorough study of all facts available up to this time; but notice it is only a "conclusion" and could be wrong.

As indicated in the last paragraph, Rev. Albright recognized that his conclusion was not based on definitive, primary source material that would "prove" his conclusion. As subsequent information will show, this was a wise statement since some of the "facts" he relied on later proved to be incorrect. Rev. Albright's conclusion was based primarily on the age of the two Heinrich Furrers in question. According to a letter from the Swiss Record Office of the County of Zurich, dated December 23, 1987, to Mary Ann Plumeri of Las Vegas, Nevada, the Heinrich Furrer born July 6, 1731 (according to Faust and Brumbaugh) was actually baptized on July 6, 1727. The letter states that Faust and Brumbaugh's lists are "very incorrect" and provides additional details concerning this family (translated from the German).

ZURICH, On December 23, 1987

Heinrich Furrer, allegedly baptized on July 6, 1731, descended from Oberlangenhard (District Zell) in the County of Zurich. He emigrated in 1738 with is parents and siblings to America. The family Furrer is entered in the lists of Emigrants to America, which was set in 1744, (compare Albert B. Faust, List of Swiss Emigrants in the Eighteenth Century to the American Colonies, vol. I, Washington DC 1920, p. 100). The edition of these lists is unfortunately very incorrect. Heinrich Furrer was actually baptized on July 6, 1727 and his father's name was Leonhard not Bernhard! Since the family Furrer did not live in Switzerland since 1738, information about the children of Heinrich Furrer is not available.

Furrer, Leonhard of Oberlangenhard-Zell
Zell 9/19/1697
(E: Hans Jakob Furrer, of 0., Zell 11/2/1687 Magdalena Schickli of ?)
Barbara Zuppinger, of Oberlangenhard-Zell
Zell 8/8/1697
(E: Jakob Zuppinger, of 0., (vor 7/31/1692) Barbara Wettstein, of ?)
- Heinrich, Zell 7/6/1727
- Hans Konrad, Zell 12/26/1728, + Oberlangenhard 3/19/1729
- Anna, Zell 3/14/1730, + Zurich (Hospital) 11/21/1734
- Hans Rudolf, Zell 12/14/1732, + Oberlangenhard 3/19/1735
- Hans Rudolf, Zell 1/27/1737
Emigrated to America. Arrival on the ship Jamacia Galley in Philadelphia and sworn in on 2/7/1739 (PGP I 252-253; Faust 100, with incorrect Information: Father "Bernhard" instead of Leonhard; Year of Birth of Heinrich "1731" instead of 1727).

From the above it appears only two of Leonhard Furrer's children (Heinrich and Hans Rudolf) lived for very long (I assume the second date is the date of death). I'm not sure exactly what some of this information means (e.g., the E: and the von 0.). This letter also call into question Rev. Albright's speculation concerning the relationship between the various Furrers who came to this country (e.g., brothers, nephews, etc.) which was based on "wide-spread tradition two or three brothers came over about the same time by way of Charleston." As indicated this latter family arrived via Philadelphia.
Rev. Albright and other sources list the following other early Furrs and Furrers:

1. William Furr who lived in Northampton County, Virginia, in 1655.
2. Henry Furr who was transported to Virginia in 1658.
3. Lenhart Furer who landed in Philadelphia 1738/1739.
4. Jacob Furrer who sailed September 17, 1750 on the brigantine, Sally, from
London bound for Pennsylvania.
5. Christian Furrer who sailed November 3, 1750 on the ship, Brotherhood,
from Rotterdam with 300 passengers bound for Pennsylvania.
6. Henry Furrer who left Germany around 1782 and had a wife named Rachel.

Other facts concerning our ancestor Heinrich Furrer (Henry Furr) are:

1. June 24, 1762 -- purchased 301 acres in Anson County (later Mecklenburg,
now Cabarrus) just south of the Rowan County line.
2. September 22, 1763 -- took the Oath of Allegiance (was naturalized) in
Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina.
3. September 27, 1769 -- prepared his will naming two sons (John and Paul).
4. Since only two of Heinrich Furrer's children (John and Paul) were named in
his will, it is likely they were the only one "of age" at the time. Their dates of
birth have been given as between 1747 and 1754 by various genealogy

As Rev. Albright clearly pointed out, identifying the ancestor of our Heinrich Furrer is a matter of speculation not fact, given the limited provable information available. Even the clarifying information that has come to light since Rev. Albright wrote his books has not helped rule out either of the prime candidates. The known facts about these individuals are summarized below:

Heinrich Furrer
Born 11/13/1691
Came to America about 1743 (about age 52)
Had to lose entire first family
Between 56 and 63 years old when first child of second family was born
About age 77 when will was written

Heinrich Furrer
Born 7/6/1727
Came to America about 1738/9 (about age 11) via Philadelphia
Between 20 and 27 years old when first child was born
About age 42 when will was written