By Lucille Clepper Mehrkam
From pages one, two, and three of her book.
The name Klepper first appeared in the "List of Germans from the Palatinate" who arrived at St. Catharin's, 11 June 1709 taken at St. Catherine's and Debtford, June 15, (from original documents in British Museum Library, London, England). Bricklayer - Klepper, Conrad, age 33, wife; sons aged 9 and 12; daughter aged 5 yrs.; Catholic; "The Passengers & Immigration Lists Index", Conrad Klepper 33; England/or America 1709, 9135 p165, with wife and son 9, son 2 and daughter 5; Jacob Clipper on Ship Isaac 1749; Johann Valenthin Klepper, Philadelphia, Pa. 1766, 9041 p709; Ludwick Klepper, Philadelphia, Pa. 1846, 9300 p166, and "Pennsylvania German Pioneers" by Strassburger, Johann Valenthin Klepper is listed in the passengers list on the Ship CHANCE, Charles Smith, Master, from Rotterdam but last from Cowes. 200 souls on ships list. Arrived Philadelphia 23 day of Sept. 1766.
The "New Dictionary of American Family Names" by Elsdon C. Smith list Klepper (Ger) "One who chatters and gossips". In Dutch I'm told it means "One who rings the bell" and in German "Old Horse".
It is my belief that the Klepper's of Tn. came from the Palatine (Rhine Valley) area, as that is where most of the immigrations to America came from at the time. Palatinate was the name of two little countries of the old German Empire. The two Palatinates were one political unit until 1620. One was called the Upper Palatinate. The other was called the Lower, or Rhenish, Palatinate. The name Palatinate once referred to a castle of the German emperor. The Upper Palatinate is now part of Bavaria. The Lower Palatinate is part of Rhineland Palatinate. The former capitals were Regensburg and Speyer.
The earlest records I have found in Germany on Klepper is the birth record of Catharina Klepper born 9 Jul. 1697 daughter of Joannes Klepper & Othelia Reiberin; marriage record of a Heinrick Klepper and Anna Christina Wirsching 16 Nov. 1725 at Mosbach, Dainbach; birth record at Pfalz, Altleiningen, Evangelische for Johann Georg Klepper son of Hanss Georg Klepper and Eleonora, born 3 Apr. 1735.
The 1790 census of PA list Lawrence Klepper, & Wm. Clepper; 1800 PA census list Frederick and Michael Klepper; and 1810 PA census list Lewis G., Geo. H, Henry, Henry, Herman J, Mathias, Nickalos and Jacob Clepper (this Jacob Clepper will is filed in 1815 at Lancaster Co., PA. A Jacob Clepper is listed in the 1790 Rowan Co., Salisbury Dist, NC (now part of TN.
The 1790 Census of TN. have been lost and the earliest records found on Klepper/Clepper are the 1809 Tax records of Hawkins Co., Tn.: George Klepper, Frederick Klepper, and Jacob Klepper. "The Early Tax Records of TN" list Samuel and James Clipper in White Co. 1811; James, Frederick, and Philip in Franklin Co. 1812; John and Jacob Clipper in Washington Co. 1819.
In the 1850 census of TN. Jacob Jr. shows his age as 59 and states he was born in PA. Peter shows his age as 50 and born in TN.
This would place Jacob Sr. in PA in 1791 and TN as early as 1800. Jacob Klepper, Sr. was born 1741 probably Germany and died 1825 Washington Co., Tn. Family legend says he moved to Maryland or Va. back to Pa. and then on into Tn. by late 1790's. 1/mar. Barbara; 2/mar to Rebecca ? born 1743; died 20 Aug. 1830. She is in the 1830 census of Wa. Co., Tn. in the household of Jacob Jr.
On 17th Jan. 1812 the State of TN issued Joseph Klipper a land grant in Hawkins Co. for 100 acres on Caney Creek beginning at Jacob Kleppers corner. Jacob SR issued a deed in Washington Co., TN. to Jacob JR on 1 Sept. 1825 on two parcial land located in Hawkins Co., Tn. for five hundred dollars. Surveyed 18th day of Mch. 1815. Beginning on the waters of Caney Creek tract containing 20 acres joining Joseph Cleppers line. This part of Tn. was a part of N.C. at one time. The early settlers of this area had held the area during the whole of the war against the British and Indians, cleared land and built houses and out buildings. After the war the politicians -- not thinking as usual -- set off a large square section of land that covered nearly all of middle Tn. as land with which to pay the NC soldiers. They then proceeded to divide it up with the result that they were running lines right through the lands settled earlier by a "first settler" -- in some cases, dividing his land between his house and his out buildings and kicking him off with no compensation for any of the improvements he had made.
Someone called this to the attention of the legislature, and they set about to correct it. They allowed those "first settlers" the same land as a soldier -- 640 acres. However, this was still not right for with only a few exceptions, everyone had to give up what he had worked on and take up land elsewhere - some guy who "served" by merely standing and waiting got the settlers years of effort, free. Over half of the grants in this section are to men who had died in the defense of the place. To add insult to injury, the surveyors could not have even divided the land without the help of the first settler. Many of them served as armed guards to protect the survey parties from the Indians and, the settlers, being there with a food supply, fed them.
If Jacob was in PA. in 1791 then he should have been in PA. during the Rev. War of 1775-1783. Strangely, I have not been able to find his name on any Rev. War Service record, and he is not found on the Tn. Land Grant Records. Within this military area there were three kinds of grants given. 1. Those to Officers and Soldiers. 2. Those to first settlers. 3. Those to the surveyors and guards for dividing it up -- as their pay.
Four or five hostile Indian tribes inhabited Tennessee as late as 1800. The Blue Ridge Mountains, which form the boundary between North Carolina and Tennessee, are barriers to travel. They were more so in the early days than now. For that reason it was easier to come into Tn. from the north than from the east. Many of the settlers, therefore, came into TN. from VA. It was in fact thought by some that it was part of that state. Many German families settled in several of the counties west of Chattanooga, where some of our descendants still live.
I would like to share with you some of the facts, which I have collected about the Klepper families, the first who came to Tennessee from PA as early settlers and then moving on into IL, IN., AL., MO., AR, NE, CA, OK, FL and Texas. I have gathered information far beyond my expectations. No doubt more could be learned, but time demands that the project be closed down.
Let us bring to life these pioneers who are gone, but not forgotten. This large family has contributed its share to history, not only that of the small town in Tennessee from whence they came, but also that of Texas where they settled.
These brave people came in very small ships from Germany and were able to bring few possessions with them. The journey was long and perilous, but it meant political and economic security and freedom in the end. They were willing to set sail for an unknown country, far from their families, to obtain these cherished principles. They faced a strange, rough life, but they were people of sturdy build and character, with energy and determination, and because of this they could and would succeed. Most of the men were well educated and had a trade. They were eager to learn about agriculture and to obtain land to farm and to call their own.
A log cabin, built with their own hands, was the usual first home in Texas. They plowed their land, raised cattle, hogs, and chickens. Their furniture was hand made--they sat on wooden stools without backs and slept in beds which had ropes used for springs. They shared with friends their time, efforts, knowledge, and respect, so that everyone could grow in stature. Let us reflect on the fierce loyalty these people felt toward each other, and the love they shared for Texas.
"History and Genealogy of the family of the Jacob Klepper/Clepper Family and Malcolm McAlpine Family."
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 86-62751
Publisher - The Gregath Company of Cullman, AL