Born: circa 1480    

Nothing more is known about this Hans Fillbrunn.  



Born: circa 1530/1550    
circa 1604
Wife:  unknown

In 1570 one Peter Fillbrunn paid rent to the ancient Catholic monastery of Schonau near Heidelberg.  The Catholic Church at that time owned about one-third of the land in Germany, the rest being divided among various princes and the large, prosperous so-called Free Cities along the Rhine and Danube.  All were under the authority of the Holy Roman Empire, in which the Hapsburgs ruled as emperors but were crowned by the Pope.

It is not likely that Peter was the first of his line in Neckarhausen.  Perhaps the mysterious Hans Fillbrunn was his father, or grandfather, since Peter named one of his sons Hans.  All Peter’s sons reached stations in life usually reserved for well-established families.  Perhaps Peter married into one of the first families of the area.  Son Adam became mayor of Feudenheim, son Georg was juryman in Sandhofen and son Hans was mayor of Neckarhausen.

Neckarhausen belonged to the parish of Ladenburg, the county seat of the region at that time.  It is there that the Council Protocol mentions Peter’s heirs in 1604, so he died sometime prior to that date.  



Born: circa 1560/1570    
circa 1634
Wife:  unknown

Hans, son of Peter and a citizen of Neckarhausen, was mentioned several times in official village records.  He is listed as mayor of Neckarhausen in 1614.  Mayors were appointed jointly by the Elector of the Palatinate region, whose capitol was Heidelberg, and by the Bishop of Worms at Worms.  This office was a position of trust and loyalty; the main duty was the carrying out of orders from the Elector and the Bishop.  In 1616, these two had a disagreement over who was to be mayor of Neckarhausen.  Finally, Hans was again appointed mayor.  He died while still in office, sometime around 1634.



Born: 1610  
Died: circa 1664     
First wife:  Unknown   
Born: circa 1607   
after 1668

Hans Jakob was quite young when the devastating 30 Years War broke out in 1618.   Especially hard hit was the Palatinate.  Despite the hardships his family endured, Hans Jakob survived.  In about 1640, he took over the office of Imperial Postmaster, serving Neckarhausen, Mannheim, Heidelberg and the areas between these villages.  Hans Jakob’s brother, Hans Valentin, had been Postmaster until his death at which time Hans Jakob stepped in.  Since he was a widower by then, Jakob also stepped in and married Valentin’s widow, Apollonia.

The war had reached its worst stage at the time of their marriage.  Entire areas of Germany were depopulated by military action or disease.  Somehow, Jakob and Apollonia endured, as did only two of their children, Alexander and Anna Christinia.  Hans Phillip Ortlepp, a stepson of Apollonia’s first husband, also grew up in the Fillbrunn household and later became an important local official.  Forty years later (it being a truly small world in those days), Alexander would marry Ortlepp’s daughter.

Jakob is mentioned in the records of the Catholic Church in 1646 and 1648 as Godfather of sons of two prominent families.  This was considered a singular honor in those days.  In 1651, Jakob is listed as Mayor while still continuing as Postmaster.  By about 1664, when Jakob died, the standing of the Fillbrunns in Neckarhausen was at its zenith.



Born: 1644   
     Married: 1664 /5
     Born: 1632   
Second wife:  ROSINA ORTLEPP
     Married:  1680
Other Dates: unknown

Alexander was born four years before the Peace of Westphalia marked the end of the 30 Years War.  When “Sander”, as he was also known, was only 20 he married a widow, Susana.   Her surname is unknown, but she was 12 years older than Alexander.

Alexander inherited the office of Postmaster from his father, Hans Jakob.  Since sons of postmasters were taught to read and write, a not too common skill in those days, they usually became persons of some influence and status.   Alexander and Susana had three sons.  In addition to the postmaster duties, Alexander is noted in local records as being “a tiller of gentlemen’s farms.” 

In 1680, Susana died.  Three months later Alexander married Rosina Ortlepp, daughter of Hans Phillip Ortlepp.  (Rosina, after all,  was the daughter of the stepson of Alexander’s mother’s first husband.!)  Just two years later, Alexander died at the young age of 38.

Meanwhile, Alexander’s sister, Anna Christinia, married Johann Philip Mack, a miller and town council member in Schriesheim, six miles to the east of Neckarhausen.  The Mack family embraced Calvinism, the new religion of the ruling prince of the Palatinate.  Their youngest son, Alexander, was named for his Godfather and uncle, Alexander Fillbrunn, just a year before the latter died.  Alexander Mack became increasingly dissatisfied with the older, established religion.  In the early 1700s he began preaching as an Anabaptist.  Mack later immigrated to the United States and founded the German Baptist faith (also known as  “Dunkards” and more accurately, the Church of the Brethren).



Born: June 21, 1674    
     Married: unknown

Johann Melchoir’s mother died when he was six and his father, Alexander, two years later.  When he was 13, his elder brothers died at ages 20 and 22 from unknown causes.  Johann was left as the only surviving descendant of the direct line from Peter (the first verifiable Fillbrunn).  Johann’s stepmother, Rosina, remarried two years after Alexander’s death to Hans Adam Huner and moved to Winheim.  Perhaps he grew up there or in the household of his aunt, Anna Christina Mack, because Johann Melchoir later married a woman from the Mack’s hometown of Schriesheim.    

His new wife was Maria Magdalena Brecht, daughter of a councilman.  They had two children, one of whom died at an early age.  Johann Melchoir also died at the early age of 23 just before becoming Postmaster, the post his oldest brother, Hans Georg, filled before his death in 1687 and which Johann Melchoir was too young to assume at that time.

Maria remarried that same year to David Birgni, a Swiss immigrant,  and Johann Melchoir’s son, Johann Wendel, again the only surviving  descendant of the Fillbrunn line, grew up in the Birgni household.  



Born:  Dec., 1694     
  after 1756
     Married:  1718
     Born: 1698
     Died: Unknown

Johann Wendel was raised by his mother and his stepfather, David Birgni, however his uncle, Johann Michael Susmann, aided in his support.  This uncle was Mayor of Neckarhausen and now owned the mill that formerly belonged to Anna Christina (Fillbrunn) and Johann Philip Mack.  Furthermore, Susmann had gained the office of Postmaster when his brother-in-law, Hans Georg Fillbrunn, died in 1687. 

By now the quarrels between Lutherans, Calvinists and Anabaptists had greatly weakened the Protestant Church in southern Germany.  The better-organized Catholic Church was regaining strength and political power was shifting.  Uncle Michael Susmann was Catholic, as was Franziska (Francisca) Schreckenberger, born January 6, 1698, who Johann Wendel married in 1718 when he was 24.  These factors combined to encourage Johann Wendel to join the Catholic Church sometime before 1739 since he was appointed Mayor of Neckarhausen in that year.  He and Francisca had seven children, including three sons.  Johann Wendel died sometime after 1756.



Born: Nov. 22, 1719     
     Married:  1739

Balthasar’s two younger brothers, Martin and Michael, followed their parents in joining the Catholic Church, but Balthasar chose his forefathers’ faith and joined the Calvinist Church.  However rewarding this may have been for him spiritually, it was not a wise political move in Eighteenth Century Germany.  Balthasar was the first Fillbrunn in five generations to hold no office (Johann Melchoir died just before becoming Postmaster.) 

Perhaps his religious affiliation and lack of official office is why Balthasar is mentioned seldom in records of the time.  He married at 20 to Margaretha Quintel, daughter of a dressmaker.  They had seven children.  Balthasar died at age 54 and his widow died three years later.



Born: circa 1748   
after 1808  
     Married:  1776
Oct. 12, 1750    
Oct. 22, 1793
     Born:  circa 1760    
  Mar. 11, 1826

Like his father, Johann Michael remained a Calvinist.  He was married in that church in the year of the American Revolution to Christina Bruch.  Christina was the daughter of a ferryman who drowned in a flood of the Neckar River in 1760.

Unlike his father, Johann Michael was able to overcome the political handicap of being a Calvinist since he did become the Mayor of Neckarhausen.  In 1784, the Neckar River once again took its toll when as a result of ice blockage, water buildup and an eventual thaw, a huge ice movement destroyed 96 houses, 21 barns and killed 13 residents.  Mayor Johann Michael Fillbrunn’s family was listed as one of the few needing no government compensation for damages.

Johann Michael and Christina had two children:  Karl Ludwig and Ursula.  When Christina died in 1793, Johann Michael remarried to Anna Elisabetha Rehn (or Rheinle).  They had one son, Johann Peter, from whom the American Fillbrunns are descended.  The last mention of Johann Michael in official records was in 1808.



Born:  Aug. 4, 1797 (Germany)
Died:  Dec. 12, 1873 (U.S.)
(Wives:  See “Peter Fillbrun” below)

Although Johann Peter was born and raised in Neckarhausen like the Fillbrunns for three or more centuries before him, he made a momentous decision in 1818.  He would immigrate to America!  

Even to move to the next town would have been a huge change for a Fillbrunn in the early Nineteenth Century.  We can only speculate on what prompted Johann Peter to move to another continent.  As far as German migration to the U.S. went, Peter was either behind the times (a large wave of Palatinates had left Germany between 1727 and 1780 for religious reasons) or he was ahead of them (another group left between 1830 and 1840 for economic reasons). 

Perhaps Johann Peter was influenced by new democratic ideas and a yearning for greater freedom which reached to Germany following the end of the French Revolution in 1789.  Or perhaps Peter had some contact with the American descendants of Alexander Mack (whose uncle, Alexander Fillbrunn, was Peter’s great-great-great-grandfather).  Or perhaps he learned of the new prosperity and freedoms enjoyed in the United States by the Harshbarger and Arnold families, both of which had emigrated from Germany (and would become Peter’s in-laws.)  Then too, southern Germany had once again become a stronghold of Catholicism and after Balthasar chose Protestantism 80 years earlier, the Fillbrunn star may have been in the descendant in Neckarhausen.

For whatever reasons, a 21-year old Peter left Neckarhausen and Germany forever in 1818.  He made his way to Rotterdam to board a ship bound for America.  His immigration resulted in the founding of the Filbrun family in the United States.



Born: Aug. 4, 1797 (Germany)    
Died:  Dec. 12, 1873 (U.S.)
     Married: 1822, Virginia 
     Born:  Mar. 2, 1799     
     Died:  Sept. 11, 1856
     Married:  Dec. 4, 1857, Ohio
     Born:  Dec. 22, 1807     
     Died: July 27, 1882  


Our American forefather, Peter Fillbrun, first set foot in America at the port of Philadelphia in 1818.  He arrived on a ship from Rotterdam and stayed for a time with relatives in Germantown, near Philadelphia, before moving to the Shenandoah River Valley of Virginia.

After coming to the United States, Peter Americanized his name by dropping “Johann” and one “n” from “Fillbrunn”.  He probably lived for a brief time in Frederick County, Maryland, where a sizable group of German Brethren lived.  There was also a group of Brethren in Rockingham County, Virginia, where Peter next went to live.

Harrisonburg, Virginia records show that he married Elizabeth Harshbarger there in 1822.  The Harshbargers were also Brethren and Elizabeth’s father was an elder in the church.  Peter may have bought land near the small town of Dayton, Virginia, from his father-in-law as court records show that he sold 74 acres “adjoining Harshbarger and Coffman properties” in 1829. 

Peter had decided to move once again – this time West.  Perhaps he was in search of new land, or perhaps the Shenandoah Valley was becoming too crowded for him or perhaps he was just one of the rare Filbruns who was restless and liked adventure.  Then, too, he may have influenced – or been influenced by – his in-laws who also moved west at this time.  Maybe the move had something to do with the church since a new Brethren congregation was organized in their Ohio community in 1830.  Whatever the reason may have been, Peter who just 11 years before had left a familiar, isolated German home for an unknown life in America, was on the move westward once more in 1829 – only this time he had to provide for a wife and three small sons, as well.


According to a story passed down in the family, Peter and two brothers-in-law, Daniel Arnold and Jacob Snell, came to Ohio in 1829 to search for land.  After taking an option on some land in Wayne Township, Montgomery County, they returned to Virginia and brought their families to Ohio the following year.  Arnold and Harshbarger family papers state that a party of settlers came to Ohio, arriving in September, 1830.  Among this group are thought to have been Henry and Elizabeth Harshbarger (Peter’s parents-in-law) with their five daughters and their families.  This would have included Catherine and Daniel Arnold and their five children, as well as Elizabeth and Peter Fillbrun and their sons, Joseph (6) John (4) and Henry (1).

They came in large, heavy Conestoga wagons pulled by oxen.  As was the custom, older children walked, younger children were carried in the animal feedboxes on the wagons and babies were held by their mothers who rode on the hard seats at the front of the wagons.  The group traveled north out of Virginia to reach the National Road.  They followed this road west to Springfield, Ohio, which was as far as the road was completed at that time.  Having no more roads to follow, the group traveled along dry creek beds and Indian trails to Wayne Township.

Shortly after their arrival, Henry Harshbarger purchased a 158-acre farm.  The following year, Daniel Arnold bought the property from his father-in-law and moved his family into the log house on the farm.  This farm is now Carriage Hill MetroPark & Farm, part of a living historical 900-acre preserve maintained by the Five Rivers MetroParks System.  The farm is preserved to demonstrate the life the Arnolds knew in the 1880s.

Although Peter’s obituary states that he moved to Ohio in 1829, the deed records in Montgomery County show that for $1,000, Peter purchased from Jacob Carver in 1830 a 158-acre farm comprising the northwest quarter of section 12 in Wayne Township.  Peter is listed as living in Montgomery County at the time of purchase so perhaps he came to Ohio before his in-laws.             

Whether in 1829 or 1830, Peter and his family had arrived in Ohio at a time of unprecedented change and unrest.  The railroads were being built to link Cincinnati to Cleveland and all the towns between.  The Miami-Erie Canal system and the Underground Railroad were stretching across the state – one to move crops and goods cheaply and quickly, the other to move fleeing slaves northward to freedom.  This group of quiet, pacifist Virginia Brethren had settled near other Brethren in Ohio.  The Arnolds, Fillbruns and Harshbargers would be very active in the Brethren congregation in nearby Miami County starting in the 1830s.

Unfortunately, nothing is known about the middle years of Peter’s life except that he apparently thrived as an industrious, successful farmer.  His obituary states also that in 1853, at the age of 56, he moved to Miami County “… where he lived until his death.”  Although no deed was recorded, Peter must have sold his Wayne Township farm to his sons, Joseph and Henry, when he moved.  Three years later, Elizabeth died in Bethel Township, Miami County, at the age of 57.  Apparently Peter decided to move after her death to live with his son, Henry, in Madison Township, Montgomery County (despite what his obituary stated.)

In 1857, Peter remarried to Barbara Overholser of Montgomery County.  Little is known about her before their marriage (or after), but they returned to Miami County, probably back to the Bethel Township farm of his son, John.  Possibly a factor in his move was the panic that occurred in 1857 which included exposure of embezzlement by the Ohio State Treasurer and caused great hardships for many people.

1865 saw the end of the Civil War that had ravaged much of the country.  Peter and his family were probably not greatly affected by the war since they were situated safely away from the fighting, since they were relatively self-sufficient as farmers and since they were confirmed pacifists by their religious beliefs.  They may have felt some of the effects of the war after its conclusion, however, when a period of great inflation led to another panic that hit Ohio severely in 1873.

In November of that year, Peter made out his will.  He divided his property among his wife, Barbara, and his sons, Joseph and John, with Henry’s share going to Henry’s four sons.  (Henry had died in 1871 and Joseph had moved to Illinois in 1867.) 

At least two of Peter’s possessions have survived.  He gave the family Bible, printed in Germany in 1813, to John, who passed it on to son Peter, to son Edward, to son Robert, to son Norman, who has it today in his home in Springfield, Ohio.  John was also given a large corner cupboard, said to be made from cherry trees from Peter’s orchard.  This cupboard is now also in the possession of Norman Filburn (sic).

Three weeks after making his will (on which he signed his name “Filbrun”) Peter died at age 76.  He and Barbara had just observed their 16th wedding anniversary.  Burial was at Spring Grove Cemetery, Miami County, a singularly appropriate place for a man whose ancestors had carried the German name translated as “many springs” for some 300 years.  The following portion of Peter’s obituary, written by his nephew, Henry H. Arnold, provides us with the best-recorded description of what kind of man Peter was:

“Brother Filbrun was one of our plain old brethren.  His seat in the sanctuary was  seldom vacant.  His conversation was principally from the scriptures, instead of worldly matters.  The Old and New Testaments were the only histories he  indulged in, and these he almost knew by heart.  By his death, the church has lost a true and faithful member, the community a good neighbor, and the needy an open and charitable hand.  He was the father of three sons, all members of the Church, of which two survive him, who feel the loss of a father, and the wife a kind husband; but they need not sorrow as those that have no hope, for we feel satisfied that he is gone to the heavenly mansions to reap the rewards of his labors.  Some time before his decease, he told this writer to see that his burial is conducted in the old order, to have a plain coffin, and to be hauled to the grave in a wagon instead of a hearse.  Peace to his ashes.”

Peter was obviously an ancestor of whom all Filbruns can be justly proud. Barbara lived on nine years after Peter’s death, apparently with members of her family.  There is no record that Barbara was a member of the Brethren church, so perhaps this created a gulf between her and Peter’s sons.  Whatever the reason, there seems to have been little, if any, contact between her and any Filbruns after Peter’s death.          

Most of the Filbruns in the United States are descended from Peter and Elizabeth Harshbarger Filbrun.  Their three children had a total of 22 children who lived to maturity.  Due to the large number of Filbrun descendents and that so much data is unknown, this family history will - for now, at least - only follow the line of descent through Peter’s son, John, to his son, Peter, to his son, Edward, and then to all of Edward’s descendents.                 

JOHN (HENRY) FILBRUN   - photo (click here) and (here)

Born: Jan. 19, 1826, Rockingham Co., Virginia   
Died:  June 10, 1896, Miami Co., Ohio
First wife:  LYDIA HECK
Oct. 23, 1845, Clark Co., Ohio
Nov. 10, 1827, Clark Co., Ohio    
Apr. 28, 1880, Miami Co., Ohio
Second wife: 
Nov. 6, 1881 
Sept. 21, 1833, Madison Co., Ohio
Dec. 28, 1908, Miami Co., Ohio

John was the fifth "Johann" or "John" to be so named in the past six generations.  John may have used "Henry" as his unofficial middle name.  When he was four, John was brought from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Ohio in a wagon train.  As was the custom then for younger children, John rode in the animal feed box on the family's Conestoga wagon.  What a rough ride over the Appalachian Mountains that must have been!

At the young age of 19, John married 18-year old Lydia Heck.  Her family had also come to Ohio from Virginia.  Lydia was from Clark County, as were her two cousins who became the wives of John's brothers.  (For more on his brothers, Joseph and Henry Filbrun, see the information at the end of this life story of John.)

John purchased a 120-acre farm in 1848 in Bethel Township in Miami County.  Bethel was a township full of rolling hills and good farmland, only a few miles north of where John's father, Peter, had settled when he came to Ohio.  John and Lydia's two-story, brick house still stands today on farmland at 7895 State Route 201, about one-half mile north of Brandt, Ohio.

According to W. H. Beer's "History of Miami County", the farm was not in good condition when purchased, but evidently John and Lydia worked very hard for the history reports that sometime later, "...the buildings have received improvements of the best quality; John has a peach orchard of 800 trees that promise more than an ordinary crop, and also an apple orchard of four acres with a good variety of fruit.  This farm has a fine spring.  Upon the whole, it is a very desirable property.  Besides all the improvements made, John has, at intervals, purchased land until he owns the south half of Section 9; 315 acres in one body and in a high state of cultivation."  (It should be noted that Beer's county histories were produced to sell to those county residents who were included; therefore, they tended towards exaggeration.)

John and Lydia were evidently very hard and productive workers in more ways than one.  They had nine children, five daughters and four sons.  Five children lived to maturity.  The oldest, Peter, is the son whose life we will follow on this history site.  When two of the sons, John, Jr. and David, were grown, John Jr. lived at one end of his parent's farm and David at the other end.  The farm by then was a mile long and half-mile wide, by some reckonings.  John's father, Peter, also lived on the farm during most of his retirement years from about 1853 till his death in 1873.

An interesting piece of John's history is preserved in a letter reputedly written by John in 1859.  To which family member it was sent is unknown, but the letter is still in the Filbrun family.  The contents indicate quite a paradox in John's life.  Sent from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on the Mississippi River, the letter states in part that John is "...not on the river anymore", "...has settled down in the grocery business with a partner named Sloan", "...has been ill for the past two months with such bad rheumatism that I can not walk or stand", and "...the doctor says I have to drink cider but we don't have any good cider here, so can you send me a barrel or half-barrel".  (The letter was translated from the German by Frank Fillbrunn.)

The letter is signed "John Henry Filbrun".  Curiously, this is the only known use by John of his younger brother's name as his own middle one.  Why would John, who was born in the United States, as was his mother, have written the letter in German?  Could the rheumatic Missouri store-keeping John Henry Filbrun have been some distant family member, whose identity is now lost to us, and not the John Filbrun who was the healthy, hard-working Miami County farmer and family man?  We'll never know the true story about that or about the Filbruns of more than 140 years ago, but such paradoxes are what takes family history out of the routine and helps make it so intriguing.

Religion had always been an important part of the lives of the Filbruns, whether in Germany or the United States.  John and Lydia carried on the tradition by being active members of the German Baptist Brethren, the religion founded by John's ancestor, Alexander Mack.  (See "Filbrun Religions" article.)   John was elected deacon in the Hickory Grove Church in 1866, but in 1881, a split in the church occurred.  John remained steadfast with the Old Order, while his son, David, went with the other group, known then as the Conservatives.  The Conservatives soon sued the Old Order.  John was named one of the defendants and David was a plaintiff against his father.  Fortunately for the church, as well as for Filbrun family relations, neither group believed in fighting - either the physical or legal kind - so they were able to settle their dispute quickly.

In 1885, four years after the separation in the church, John allowed his farm to be used as the site for the church's national Annual Meeting.  (His older brother, Joseph, had also hosted a much larger Annual Meeting on his Illinois farm 11 years earlier.  See "Religion" article.)  About 3,000 people - no small number of guests to be on one farm in 1885 - attended the first public worship during the Ohio meeting.

In 1880, Lydia had died after many years of confining illness from dropsy (edema) at the age of 52 years.  A year later, John, now 55, married Mary Jane (Bogarth) Garst who was a 48-year old widow with nine children, three still living at home.

John lived to be 70 and died in 1896 after "...suffering three days with paralysis."  He was the last of Johann Peter's children to die.  Following is a portion of his obituary which appeared in the church's newspaper, "The Vindicator":  "...he was a faithful, prayerful, devoted and consistent worker in the church, and in his death, the side companion has lost a devoted husband and friend, the poor a sympathizer, the afflicted a comforter, and the church a true and earnest member who has for years labored faithfully in the office of the visit, where his service will be missed, yet we trust our loss is his eternal gain.

John and Lydia are buried at Hickory Grove Cemetery in Miami County, just a short distance from where they lived out their lives. Mary, John's second "side companion", died in 1908 at the age of 78, twelve years after John's death.


John's brothers, Joseph Filbrun (1823-1889) and Henry Filbrun (1829-1871) are not in the direct line of Filbrun descent that is covered on this site.  However, some life stories are too interesting not to include.  The most revealing and entertaining stories of Filbrun family life in the mid-1800s can be found under "Joseph Filbrun's Really Large Family".  You will find this in the "Stories" section on this site.

The two-story, brick house of youngest brother, Henry, remains standing on Route 35, just west of Union Road in Montgomery County, Ohio.  It is directly across from the Bear Creek Church of the Brethren, the church Henry and his family attended in the 19th century.  The house remained in the family of Henry's descendents for nearly 100 years, until sold in 1950.


PETER   FILBRUN - photo (click here)

Born: Sept. 12, 1846, Ohio
Died:  Dec. 8, 1915, New Carlisle, Ohio
Married:  May 26, 1868, Montgomery County, Ohio to   CAROLINE DETRICH
     Born:  Mar. 24, 1844, Montgomery County, Ohio   
     Died:  June 11, 1931, New Carlisle, Ohio

Peter grew up on his parent's farm north of Brandt, Ohio.  The farm home is still standing at 7895 State Route 201.  Peter was the oldest of John and Lydia Filbrun's six children who lived to maturity.  He married Caroline Detrich, the youngest of 13 children of Adam and Sarah Detrich (the "h" was later changed to "k").  It is said that her mother did not want Caroline to marry at all because she did not want to lose her "last child" (or her housemaid).

Adam Detrich had come from Rockingham County, Virginia, arriving before Peter's grandfather, Johann Peter.  Adam settled on land that was later to adjoin the Harshbarger/Arnold farm and still later was to become part of Carriage Hill MetroPark & Farm.  Peter took over the Detrich farm in Wayne Township, Montgomery County, at Adam's death.

On the farm were a good spring, a maple sugar camp and a brick kiln.  The red brick for the two-story house at 8101 Shull Road was made from clay on the farm.  The house formerly stood across the lane from the present riding stables at that location.  Nine children were born there to Peter and Caroline, three sons and four daughters living to maturity, and two children dying as infants.

Peter, a third generation American, was perhaps beginning to feel the pull of the larger community outside the more isolated German-American one of his father and grandfather.  It was against the old German Baptist Brethren beliefs to hold elective office, but Peter served on the Wayne Township school board and as a township trustee.  He is listed in the W. H. Beer's "History of Montgomery County" of 1882 as  "occupying places of trust" in Wayne Township.

When the split in the church came in 1881, it affected many of the Filbruns.  Peter's father, John, stayed with the Old Order while Peter and his brother, David, joined the Conservatives.  Caroline, probably because she had been more sheltered as a child, was more conservative than Peter.  From then on, Peter and Caroline went their separate ways in religious matters.  This caused their children to follow various directions in their religious practices, as well.  Though this created some tension, the family rose above it as best they could and still enjoyed reunions and get-togethers.  But individual freedom of thought, belief and action were no longer to be denied any family member.

When Peter's health declined, he and Caroline retired to a home in New Carlisle, Ohio.  They had been married 47 years when Peter died at 69 years.  He was the first to die of John and Lydia's children who lived to maturity.  Caroline lived on, alone in New Carlisle for another 16 years, until she died at age 87.  She and Peter are buried at New Carlisle Cemetery.  (See "Grandmother Filbrun Was a Nice Grandmother" in the "Stories" section on this site.)


EDWARD  CHARLES  FILBRUN - photo (click here)

Born: May 23, 1886, Montgomery Co., Ohio
Died:  Feb. 24, 1962, Dayton, Ohio
Married:  Feb. 28, 1911, Montgomery Co., Ohio to SUE SMITH
     Born:  Aug. 13, 1889, Clark Co., Ohio   
     Died:  Jan. 19, 1974, Dayton, Ohio

Edward (Ed) was born in Wayne Township, Montgomery County, Ohio on his father's farm at 8101 Shull Road.  This farm is now part of Carriage Hill MetroPark & Farm.  Ed and his twin sister, Edna, were the youngest of Peter and Caroline Filbrun's nine children.  He was given the name "Charles Edward" at birth, but later unofficially reversed the names to "Edward Charles".

Ed attended school at Killdeer, later called Sulphur Grove, and now in the city of Huber Heights.  When his older brothers left for farms of their own, Ed was needed at home and quit school after the sixth grade. 

At age 25, Ed married Sue Smith, age 22, who also had attended Sulphur Grove School through the eighth grade (there was no high school then).  They were married by Ed's uncle, David S. Filbrun, a minister in the Conservative order of the German Brethren church.  Sue's family was also a pioneering farm family and she grew up on the Sam Smith farm, one-eighth mile north of Sulphur Grove on the Brandt Pike.  (Ed and Sue were married in the 12-room house on this farm and later lived there for over 30 years.  See home in "Photos".)

After farming several years on the south edge of New Carlisle, Ed and Sue purchased a farm at the intersection of Shull Road and Old Troy Pike (State Route 202) in 1915 where they lived with the first four of their five children.  In 1924, four of the family of six caught scarlet fever.  Dale, the third child, died at age eight of complications from the fever.  This left one son, Robert (Bob), and two daughters, Mildred and Phyllis.

Another blow struck the following year when Ed and Sue had to give up their farm when the purchaser of Ed's crops went bankrupt and could not pay him.  The family moved to a series of rented farms and Ed took a factory job for additional income.  Soon Ed developed pneumonia with life-threatening complications.  He was seriously ill during the winter of 1928.  Bob and Mildred were teenagers by then so they ran the farm and worked at odd jobs to help support the family.  Bob quit school during his senior year to work full-time.  In the fall, Ed was able to return to factory work in spite of a permanently damaged lung.

In 1930, Ed and Sue's fifth child, William (Bill) was born.  As the economy improved, they saved enough money to take over the heavily mortgaged, 80-acre farm of Sue's widowed mother.  In 1931, the family moved to this farm at 7747 Brandt Pike, land that is now at the southwest corner of Brandt Pike and I-70.  Anna Smith, Sue's mother, made her home with the family until her death in 1939.  In 1940, the same year their farm mortgage was paid in full, the large family home burned to the ground.  Since Bill was the only child still living at home, Ed and Sue built a one-story, five-room home on the same foundation site that year.

Ed found time to follow his father, Peter, in a way other than farming by becoming a Wayne Township school board member, serving for 20 years, and a township trustee, serving for 15 years.  He also served as president of both bodies during those years.  Though a life-long member of the West Charleston Church of the Brethren, in later years Ed attended the nearby United Brethren Church at Sulphur Grove (now the Sulphur Grove United Methodist Church.)

In 1960, Ed received a bronze plaque from his community,  " appreciation of 35 years of devoted public service."  In addition, Filbrun Hall at Wayne High School on Chambersburg Road was named in his honor.  In spite of their own lack of formal schooling, Ed and Sue were firm supporters of education.  Three of their four children were high school graduates and two graduated college - both a first for this line of the Filbrun family.

About one week before Ed and Sue's 51st wedding anniversary, Ed died at age 75 years.  He had retired several years earlier and turned farming duties over to his son, Bob. 

Four years later, in 1966, Sue moved first to Tipp City and then to Bethany Lutheran Home in Centerville.  In 1968 she sold the farm to Huber Corporation for future home development.  In 1974, Sue died at age 84 ½ years.  Burial for both Ed and Sue was at New Carlisle Cemetery.  (See "Ed Filbrun - Our Father as a Young Man" in the "Stories section of this site.)


Following are the biographies of all the descendents of Edward C. and Sue Smith Filbrun.  To establish generational relationships more easily:

     "I."     before a name designates one of the five children of Ed and Sue

     "II."    before a name designates one of the six grandchildren

     "III."  before a name designates one of the great-grandchildren

     "IV."  before a name designates one of the great-great-grandchildren

     "V.", "VI.", etc. will designate future generations



Born:  Apr. 9, 1912, New Carlisle, OH
Died:  June 12, 1984
Married: Aug. 31, 1940, Dayton, OH to NORINE C. MANNING
Born:  Sept. 22, 1916, Dayton, OH
     Died:  Oct. 24, 2002, Springfield, OH

Bob began spelling his name "Filburn"* because, as he rightly put it, "that's the way everyone said the name".  Bob learned to love farming from his father and, like his forefathers, he always wanted to work the land.  He tried working in factories for a time, but after his marriage to Norine and birth of his son he returned to farming.  Later, even while working for the Wayne Township Schools as exterior maintenance supervisor, he continued farming his parents' farm and other rented land in Wayne Township.  

In 1974 Bob retired from the school system and purchased a farm in Champaign County.  He lived there as well as at the Brandt Pike home he built in 1941 on the acre of land he and Norine received as a wedding gift from Bob's parents.  When Bob died of cancer at age 72, he and Norine had been married almost 44 years.  Norine continued to live in the Brandt Pike home.until 2002.  Due to illness, she moved to a care facility in Springfield, Ohio, to be nearer her son, Norman, who was born in 1941. Norine died on October 24, 2002.



Born: July 20, 1941, Dayton, OH
Married:  Mar. 17, 1962, Tiffin, OH to DALEE JUDITH HONSBERGER 
Born:  Dec. 7, 1942, Tiffin, OH

Norm is a 1963 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Agriculture and, like his father, has been involved in cattle-raising, farming and farm-related activities all his life.  Norm was Vice President of Credit when he left The Miami Valley Production Credit Association after 13 years.  He worked for a time as commercial Loan Officer for Winters National Bank (now Bank One) in Dayton.  In 2000, Norm retired after 17 years of employment from Security National Bank, Springfield, Ohio, as Vice President of Commercial Banking.

Norm and DaLee were able to visit the area of Germany in 1988 where the Fillbrunns originated during the time their son, Robert, was interning there from Ohio State University.  He and DaLee sold the farm near St. Paris previously owned by Norm's father and moved from Springfield in June 2003 to Norm's childhood home on Brandt Pike in Huber Heights. In May, 2006 Norm and DaLee left Norm's family home and moved nearer their daughter, Susan, in Orrville, Ohio.  This move ended 176 years of continuous Fillbrun/Filbrun/Filburn residency in Wayne Township which began when Peter Fillbrun came to Ohio from Virginia in 1830. Norm and DaLee have many Filbrun family antiques in their home, including a Bible that belonged to Johann Peter Fillbrunn, Norm's great-great-great grandfather, and a cherry corner cupboard, reportedly made for Norm's great grandfather, Peter Filbrun, from trees from Johann Peter's own orchard.

Norm and DaLee have two children, Susan and Robert (Bob).  *(Norm has retained his father's spelling of the family name.)



Born:  Feb. 6, 1963, Columbus, OH
Married: June 15, 1985, Springfield, OH to DEAN ALLEN SHOUP
Born:  Nov. 15, 1962, Orrville, OH

Susan graduated from Ohio State University in 1985.  That same June, she married Dean Shoup, who Susan had met in college.  Dean and his family manage a large farrow-to-finish hog operation and cattle business.  Susan was initially employed for Sugardale Foods Company in Quality Control.  In 1987, she moved to J. M. Smucker Co. in Orrville as a Food Chemist, but became a full-time mother and homemaker when her twin daughters were born in 1989.

 In August 1991, Susan and Dean and the twins, Elizabeth and Lindsay, moved into the remodeled 140-year old house on a farm owned by Dean's parents near Orrville, Ohio.  She and Dean have a younger daughter, Katherine, and son, Christopher, as well.  The children are very involved with the Wayne County 4-H Club and local YMCA.



Born:  Jan. 25, 1989, Akron, OH

  Elizabeth graduated Orrville, Ohio High School in May, 2007 and entered Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio in September of that year.


Born:  Jan. 25, 1989, Akron, OH

  Lindsay graduated Orrville, Ohio High School in May, 2007 and entered Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio in September of that year.


Born:  Jan. 17, 1994, Orrville, OH



Born:  Oct. 12, 1997



Born:  Nov. 17, 1966, Dayton, OH
Married:  June 23, 1990, Cincinnati, OH to JENNIFER ANN MILLER (JENI)
Born:  Dec. 20, 1966

As an undergraduate at Ohio State University, Bob spent nine months interning in Germany where he was able to visit the area in which his Fillbrunn ancestors originated.  This exposure to family history so impressed Bob that after his graduation with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture, and prior to his marriage in 1990 to Jeni, he legally changed the spelling of his last name from "Filburn" back to the original "Filbrun"*.

In 1995, after both were employed in a series of horticultural and nursery positions, Bob and Jeni became proprietors of Ravenwood Gardens, a primarily wholesale perennial nursery located in northwest Dayton.  In 1997, they moved the nursery to the farm in Champaign County owned by Bob's father, Norm.  The following year, Norm and DaLee joined Bob and Jeni as co-owners of the nursery.  Bob and Jeni lived adjacent to their Ravenwood Gardens nursery in the renovated farm home on the Cowpath Road property originally purchased by Bob's grandfather in 1974.  In late 2002, their nursery business was dissolved.

Bob and Jeni moved to Westcliffe, Colorado in 2003 where they are employed at the Horn Creek Conference Center.  In 2004, after 14 years of  marriage, they had their first child, Cassian Kairos Filbrun.


Born:  Mar. 18, 2004, Pueblo, CO


Born:  Mar. 14, 1914, New Carlisle, OH. 
Married: June 21, 1940, Chicago, IL to FRED HECK
Died:  March 1, 2006, Centerville, Ohio
Born:  Jan. 24, 1909, Germany
     Died:  Oct. 11, 2002, Centerville, OH.

Mildred is a graduate of Wayne Township Schools and worked at a variety of jobs in Ohio, Florida and Canada before her move to Chicago and her marriage to Fred Heck in 1940.  Fred was the owner-operator of Heck's Meat Market, a large Chicago market, from which he retired in 1974. 

Mildred's interest in old family furniture developed into a rewarding antique dealership career.  She often said that she opened her antique shop because she had no more space in her house, garage and basement " keep my old stuff".   Mildred's antique shop in Wheeling, Illinois, specialized in early American primitive furniture, mostly from the Midwest.  Through family connections of Fred's, Mildred also imported many pieces from Germany, most notably German Schranks (or Schrunks - which were more commonly known as armoires) dating from about the same time that Johann Peter Filbrun was born in Germany.  Mildred operated her antique shop for twenty years and retired in 1980. 

For the next 13 years, Mildred and Fred divided their time between homes in Golf, Illinois and West Palm Beach, Florida.  The Hecks traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and the Far East and in 1970 visited Neckarhausen in the Federal Republic of Germany, home of Mildred's ancestors.  In 1993, they settled in a villa at The Moorings, a retirement community in Arlington Heights, a northwest suburb of Chicago. In September, 2001, the Hecks moved to Bethany Lutheran Village, Centerville, Ohio, to be nearer Mildred's family.  While Mildred continues to live in the assisted living Pavillon of Bethany where she celebrated her 90th birthday in March, 2004, Fred was cared for in the Special Needs area until his death on October 11, 2002, and is buried in the Filbrun family plot at New Carlisle Cemetery. Following several strokes, Mildred died March 1, 2006 at Bethany Village and her cremains were buried next to those of Fred.

During her retirement years, Mildred also wrote a series of more than 75 stories about her life.  Almost 50 of these are her memories of the Filbrun family and what growing up in the early part of the 20th Century was like.  These she referred to as "memories", rather than stories.  Several were published in the Dayton Daily News by Roz Young and in Midwest regional publications.  Mildred has generously allowed us to use some of her "memories" on this Web Site to help provide a feeling of what life - and some of the Filbruns - were like.  Click on "Stories" for a sample of some of "Mildred's Memories".



Born:  Nov. 21, 1916, Montgomery County, OH   
Died:  Feb. 25, 1925, Montgomery County, OH

Dale was a happy, gentle boy who died at the age of eight from complications from scarlet fever (at a time before antibiotics were known.)  

Two days after Dale's death, H. E. Michael, Superintendent of Wayne Township Centralized School, wrote the following tribute to his parents, Ed and Sue Filbrun:  "We are glad to have been acquainted with such a cheerful little boy and know that his cheerfulness and courteousness was not limited by a few; but that all his friends will miss him.  (Dale's) influence has only been for good and may we follow this example and also the example of Him to whom Dale has gone to live with forever."



Born:  Mar. 23, 1922, Montgomery Co., OH
Married:  Apr. 25, 1942, Dayton, OH to
     Born:  Nov. 11, 1920, Montgomery Co., OH

Phyllis attended Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, but left when she and Don McNelly married in 1942. They lived in Dayton during their early-married years and both worked at Frigidaire.  Don served as a Navy officer in World War II while Phyllis did defense work in Dayton and cared for their son, Tom, on the Filbrun farm in Wayne Township.

After the birth of their second son, Dan, they moved to Hartford City, Indiana, in 1946, where their daughter, Nancy, was born.   In 1952 the McNellys moved to Rochester, New York, where they presently reside.  Don retired as vice president and director of the St. Joe Paper Co. in 1989 and has remained active as a world-class marathoner, community volunteer and fund-raiser in Rochester.

When her children were older, Phyllis resumed her college education and received a B.S. in Psychology in 1964 from the University of Rochester in New York.  Her interest in family history soon led Phyllis to begin research on the Filbrun family.  She made contact with the late Dr. Hermann Brunn in Germany who researched the Fillbrunn ancestry for the years prior to 1818 when Johann Peter Fillbrunn left Germany.  Phyllis is one of the three authors of "A Fillbrunn Family History", published in 1985, from which much of the material on is gratefully and respectfully adapted.

 Phyllis and Don have traveled extensively and have visited the area in Germany from which the Fillbrunns originated.  There they became well acquainted with Dr. Gunter and Erna Fillbrunn and their children, Frank and Elke, of Edingen-Neckarhausen, Germany, who also have provided information and support for the family genealogical research.  One historical artifact that Phyllis has preserved is an ox yoke used by Johann Peter in the early 19th Century.  It's possible that yoke may be one used by the Fillbruns when their oxen pulled Conestoga wagons from Virginia to Ohio in 1830.



Born:  Apr. 2, 1944, Dayton, OH

Tom is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his PhD in Physics from Cornell University.  After living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a number of years, Tom is now Principal Staff Scientist for Motorola in Austin, Texas.

Tom's leisure pursuits include skiing and mountain climbing.  He is well along in his goal of climbing to the highest point in all 50 states.  Tom also has traveled extensively and has visited Germany a number of times.  In 1981 he visited Gunter Fillbrunn and his family.  He later cooperated with Gunter on the text of a mathematics textbook, "Stochastik in der Schule".



Born:  Nov. 3, 1946, Dayton, OH
Married:  Oct. 4, 1974, Rochester, NY, to PAMELA LEE WEST
     Born:  June 22, 1948, Canadaigua. NY

Dan has his BA from Syracuse University, an MA in Psychology from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Statistics from the State University of New York at Albany.  He has been employed by the New York State Department of Mental Health since 1979 and presently serves as Director of Program Evaluation & Utilization Review at Rochester Psychiatric Center in Rochester, NY.  Dan has completed one marathon and, he adds, will limit his future running events to much shorter distances.

Pam has a BA in Sociology from State University of New York at Brockport.  She has worked for a group of pediatricians for the past decade.  Pam has an extensive collection of arts and crafts made by regional New York artisans.

In 1990, Dan and Pam purchased land in Pittsford, New York, (near Rochester) which included an old house built in 1840.  After sub-dividing the land for new homes, they have lovingly modernized and restored their historic home.  Their home is listed in the town's Register of Historic Homes.  Dan and Pam have one son, Nick.



Born:  Aug. 18, 1985, Rochester, NY 

Nick played varsity hockey throughout high school.  He is very interested in music, both composing and playing.  He has been playing the guitar for four years and the keyboards for one year.  In 2005, Nick transferred from Alfred University, Alfred, NY to St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY. After graduation in December, 2008, Nick began employment in securities and investment sales.


Born:  Oct. 31, 1949, Hartford City, IN
Died: December 16, 2004, Rochester, NY

Nancy obtained a M.S. degree from Boston University and, during her 25 years of work at Boston University School of Medicine, completed extensive work in the process of both development and aging in human cells.  She had 29 papers on these subjects published by a number of scientific journals.  (* Nancy legally added "Filbrun" as a middle name in 1995 as a gift to her mother, Phyllis Filbrun McNelly.)

During trips to Central America, Nancy developed a great interest in the ancient Mayan Culture that led her to study it extensively.  As a result, she actively managed a Web site devoted to the Mayan Culture (, as well as a business, Nighthawk Designs, which produced shirts based on Mayan hieroglyphics.  Nancy's diverse interests (and, she claims, her Uncle Bill's influence) also led her to publish two articles and found a Web site devoted to the alleged 19th Century ax-murderer, Lizzie Borden, (

In 2002, Nancy moved from her long-time Cambridge, Massachusetts home to Rochester, New York.

Please see Nancy's obituary for more information.


Born:  March 4, 1930, Dayton, Ohio.
Married: Sept. 3, 1960, Columbus, Ohio, to MARTHA RACHEL (MATHEWS) DOYLE
Feb. 4, 1928, Tipp City, Ohio. 
     Divorced:  1974

For the first 30 years of his life, home for Bill was his parents' Brandt Pike farm in Wayne Township (now Huber Heights, Ohio). This farm was purchased about 1880 by Bill's maternal grandfather, Sam Smith. (It was sold in 1966 to the Huber Homes Corporation.) Bill has the original land grant to this property dated 1811, signed by Presidents James Monroe and James Madison (the latter was then Secretary of State.)

Bill graduated from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, where he served in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. He then served three years aboard a Sixth Fleet Destroyer, leaving the Navy in 1955 with the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. In doing research for this family history, Bill discovered that he is the only Filbrun who is recorded as having served on military duty in the 13 generations of direct descendents from Peter Filbrun in the 1500s through Bill's grandfather, Peter, and his father, Edward, to himself, 450 years later.

Bill was employed for 37 years at Gem Savings Association, Dayton, Ohio (later National City Bank) from which he retired in 1992, having served as Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Secretary. He has two children, Sue and Andy, and resides in Kettering, Ohio, with his long-time partner, Bob "Pete" Peterson.  

With the encouragement of his son, Bill has adapted and edited much of the Filbrun family information contained in "A Fillbrunn Family History" for use on this Filbrun family Web site.  He also has collected additional information and photographs for inclusion here  concerning living members of the family.



Born:  Sept. 12, 1962, Dayton, OH
Married: Aug. 10, 1985, Oxford, OH to TIMOTHY MICHAEL KROEGER
Born:  Feb. 13, 1961, Denver, CO

Sue graduated from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1984 and taught multi-handicapped children in Hamilton and later in Steubenville, Ohio.  In 1985, Sue joined the Catholic Church and married Tim Kroeger, who she had met at Miami University where Tim graduated in 1983.  In 1988, they moved to Steubenville where Tim had received his MA and where they became very active in working with Catholic youth groups. 

Sue discontinued teaching to become a full-time mother and homemaker when they adopted their son, Michael, in 1990.  In the next five years, she and Tim had two daughters, Bethany and Kateri, adopted a third, Maria, and Tim changed careers several times. 

In 1997, they made a major change in their lives by moving the family to Corpus Christi, Texas, where, in 2000, Tim accepted a sales position with Lawson Products.  Sue and Tim were active in family ministry with the St. Pius X church community until 2002 when Tim became Director of Formations for Our Lady of Perpetual Hope Church in Corpus Christi.  He also became a sales representative for Amsoil Lubricants at that time and began sales for National Companies "Team National" in 2007.  As their children have grown older, Sue has returned to teaching, but continues to be active with youth and women's church organizations.



Born:  Mar. 12, 1990, Steubenville, OH

In May, 2007 Michael graduated high school from Excel Academy, Conroe, Texas, and returned to Corpus Christi. In the spring of 2009, Michael moved to California to attend Fullerton College.


Born:  June 13, 1992, Steubenville, OH


Born:  Mar. 4, 1994, Steubenville, OH


Born:  May 9, 1995, Steubenville, OH



Born: July 15, 1964, Dayton, OH
Married Oct. 3, 1987, Dayton, Ohio to TRACI YORK HARRELL
     Born: May 2, 1964.
Divorced: 1993
Married Aug. 19, 1995, Dayton, Ohio to CONNIE ANN WANNEMACHER 
     Born: May 21, 1963.

Divorced: 2013

Andy is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. He is a Manager for a Software Engineering group at LexisNexis in Miamisburg, Ohio. Andy has three children and lives in Oakwood, Ohio.


Born:  December 30, 1995, Dayton, OH



Born:  February 28, 1998, Dayton, OH



Born:  May 17, 2001, Dayton, OH


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