Emera Altizer was born Emmerich Althauser in 1749, in Dutchess Co., New York, to German immigrants Johann Peter Althauser and Elisabetha Christiana Laucks. As a young man, Emera traveled south to Lancaster Co., PA where (according to family tradition) he worked as a cobbler for a Michael Pitzer. He married Pitzer's daughter Anna Marie in July, 1773 at Hagarstown, MD. Shortly after his marriage Emera moved to Montgomery Co. VA and lived there until his death in 1819. He is buried in the Altizer Cemetery on Chestnut Ridge in Montgomery Co. Emera was father to eight children (six boys and two girls) and those of us who bear the name Altizer, or have an Altizer in our ancestral line, all descend from this one man who lived through the last half of the 18th century.
The children of Emera Altizer were John, Emera Jr., Nancy, Elias, David Riley, William Alexander, Elizabeth and Jonas. Each of these children had rather large families and Emera became grandfather to approximately 70 grandchildren. Of the Altizer male children: John, Emery Jr. and Jonas lived their lives in the Montgomery Co and Floyd Co area. Jonas inherited the Altizer homeplace on condition that he care for his mother until her death. Elias, David, and William left Montgomery Co. about 1810, and headed west for the newly opened Indiana Territory. David settled in Tazewell Co, near what is now Cedar Bluff (supposedly because one of his children got sick) while the other two young men went on to settle in the southwest corner of Indiana (later Illinois). As for the two Altizer girls, Nancy married Adam Akers and Elizabeth married George Reed, and they both stayed in the Montgomery Co. area and raised their families there.
The largest concentration of the Altizer clan is in and around the Tazewell Co., VA area, and most of these members are descended from David Riley, and of those, the majority are descended from his son William. The children of Elias and William Alexander apparently had the same wander gene as their fathers, following the westerly migrations and creating branches of the family in Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Missouri, Wisconsin, Texas, California and other areas. Of course, in the post WWII automotive age, every branch of the family has become mobile and scattered all over the country. And today there are probably as many Altizers in Florida as in Virginia.
Emera could neither read nor write so the revised spelling of his name was probably from some notary or census taker who spelled it as he heard it. The German name Althauser has an umlaut over the a, making the pronunciation something like "Althoiser" In the 1810 census his first name is spelled Emeriah, and a few records exist that spell the last name "Althiser". There are other variations of the Althauser name but none of those have been traced to Emera, yet everyone I've met who spells the name "Altizer", "Altiser" or “Alltizer” can trace their lineage directly to Emera. We are today recording eleven generations of his descendants. From telephone records and other sources I have seen, I estimate there are some 4000 people living who bear the name and, if my grasp of math and genetic traits is correct, there could be over 1 million other descendents of Emera Altizer.
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