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By Jim Billiter

"yeter, yetter. Obs. Forms: 1 'g'eotere, 3-4 3eter, 4 3eoter, 3eetere, 5 3etare, 6 3ettare, yetter. See also yoter. [f. yet v. + -er(1). Cf. MSw. giutare 'fictor'.] A caster of metal; a founder. Also in comb.


That Middle English definition is courtesy The Oxford English Dictionary.

Descendants of Joseph Billiter, 'Old Joe', and Elizabeth Fuller

Flourished Maryland and Delmarva in the late 1600's

(Enter Old Joe's and Elizabeth Fuller's descendancy genealogy from the Contents link below.)

Joseph Billiter lived from 1671 to his death about 1687 on Maryland's Eastern Shore on the Delmarva Peninsula. He immigrated to Lord Baltimore's colony in May, 1671, probably as an indentured servant, and probably from England.

Old Joe's arrival in the early Maryland Colony is recorded in the State Archives at Land Patents, Liber 17, Folio 74.

Upon arrival in the Maryland Colony Joseph Billiter and Phillip Sutton were 'servants' in Robert Farrington's household which included Farrington's wife, Ann, and daughter Jane.

The early Billiters were Quakers, attested to by their participation in Third Haven Meeting, Talbot Co, Maryland Colony in the late 1600's. Whether Old Joe was a Quaker upon arrival in 1671 or joined during Fox's missionary campaign along the colonial east coast shortly thereafter is a matter for debate. Fox was the founder of the Quakers in England in 1652, and he and some of his followers visited Maryland's Eastern shore circa February-March 1672. See Fox's autobiography.

Two of Old Joe's children, Thomas and Grace, were married in the Church of England (St Peter's Parish) in the early 1700's. This is probably a consequence of the imposition of the state church about 1694 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the English Crown on Maryland, previously tolerant of all religions (or at least those which espoused a Christian-Trinitarian view) from the time of Maryland's founding by the Catholic Calverts, the several Lords Baltimore. Several CofE ministers had reported to the Archbishop that the Maryland colonists were 'iniquitous' and desperately in need of CofE ministries, along with the 'livings' attendant to CofE ministers of the period. The Crown then imposed the state religion and a tax of 40 pounds of tobacco on each household to support the 'livings' of the ministers. Old Joe probably died in 1687, but he wasn't all that old, because he left a young family behind. Elizabeth Fuller Billiter and the children probably could not afford to support two religions, and one possessed the enforcement authority of the Crown.

A later Joseph Billiter, a boat builder on the Monongahela b c 1770, was one of Old Joe's and Elizabeth Fuller's great-great-grandchildren, and husband to Sarah Seward.

Joe the Boat Builder and Sarah Seward Billiter fl Belle Vernon, PA c 1796 - 1826.

Joe the Boat Builder is s/o Edward, s/o Edward, s/o Edward, s/o Old Joe Billiter fl Maryland 1671-1687.

Man hammering on partly built keelboat

"Joe Billiter at Work in Belle Vernon, circa 1802" by Donna Llewellyn Lester

Joseph Billiter lived from the 1790's into the late 1820's along the Monongahela River near where Interstate 70 now crosses it in the Pennsylvania town of Belle Vernon, aptly named for its beautiful vistas from the 200 foot heights above the river plain. In the heyday of keelboats and flatboats on 'western waters' (rivers west of the eastern continental divide) my great-great-great grandfather built some of those boats. He was also the first ferryman of the town, probably working with help from his wife, Sarah Seward Billiter, sons, and daughters, all within shouting distance of the present I-70 crossing.

Joe the Boat Builder was buried in Belle Vernon's first cemetery on Gould Hill, but his and many other graves were destroyed by developers probably in the early 1900's, as my brother, Ralph, and I sadly discovered on a visit there about 1990. Those developers (who should be thirteen times cursed with guilt) likely invented the fiction that the housing over Joe's grave in 'Seldom Seen' had been built over an Indian burial ground, as told to us around 1990 by the current owner-landlady. As if destruction of an Indian burial ground was in some way less dishonorable to the remains of the dead! Ralph and I informed her that the property rested on Belle Vernon's first cemetery, wherein our ancestors formerly reposed.

In Belle Vernon's favor we must gratefully commend and thank all the friendly residents who helped Ralph and me, complete strangers, in our ultimately futile quest for Joe's grave: a police lieutenant, the mayor, workers at the 'new' cemetery, librarians, and even some folks at the motel where we stayed overnight.

Whence came Joe the Boat Builder? Thanks to Dave Gerth (for the pointer) and Karen Romick (for the retrieval), it is now (November 2000) almost certain that Joe is descended from an earlier Joseph Billiter ('Old Joe') who arrived in the Delmarva in 1671, probably from England.

The main evidence is an 1824 deed in Bracken Co, KY that has Joseph Billiter of Fayette Co, PA selling some land that Joe's wife, Sarah Seward Billiter, inherited from her Father, Samuel Seward, along with eight of her siblings. In context, this deed places Joe the Boat Builder among the descendants of Edward Billiter [b 18 October 1683 Talbot Co, MD and s/o Old Joe m 1674 Elizabeth Fuller]. Some of Edward's descendants migrated to Stokes Co, NC, and then onto Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Avid researchers of the Billiter tribe may note that another Joseph Billiter ('JoeJr' m Elizabeth Schaffer and s/o Joe the Boat Builder) was thriving in nearby Brown Co, OH at the time this important deed was executed in Bracken Co, Ky. That Joe cannot be the Joe Billiter of the deed, since we know that JoeJr was married to another woman, Elizabeth, when the 1824 deed was made. (Brown Co History. Courtesy Karen Romick.)

Genealogy - Descendants of Old Joe Billiter and Elizabeth Fuller

Errors in this genealogy are mine or those of the other contributors. We would appreciate corrections. Please support your corrections with transcribed sources or a cogent rationale. Like: Person x cannot possibly be born before her father, you dunce!

Additions also would be most welcome; many of Old Joe's and Elizabeth's descendants are unknown.

Enter Old Joe's genealogy by clicking on 'Contents' below.

Click on 'Submitter' to e-mail me if your browser supports the automatic 'mailto' function.

Submitter: Jim Billiter


Genetic Genealogy

The author's current (2020) terminal Y-DNA haplogroup[1] is R-FT83873. Click to view its location in Family Tree DNA's extensive haplotree. R-FT83873 is the name of a mutation currently at the end of a chain of 30 mutations starting with R-M207, the defining mutation for haplogroup R from about 27,000 years ago. R-FT83873 is estimated to have happened sometime after 200 BCE.[2]

As in the discovery of old wills, deeds, church records, and such, genetics may add to the certainty of an inferred relationship, like paternal-line kinship. The Y chromosome is passed from father to son, and most of it, the non-recombinant part (NRY), is passed unchanged except for the occasional mutation. This means that all male-line descendants of a particular man will have his NRY (barring mutations). It follows that two males with the same haplogroup have a common ancestor, and both the lines to the ancestor would be confirmed.

Accordingly, the author would be most grateful for Y haplogroup results from male-line Billiters who obtain Y chromosome DNA tests.[3] Please send by e-mail only the Y haplogroup and enough information to identify the most distant known male Billiter ancestor to Jim Billiter. The results will not be published except to note a relationship is supported by DNA testing. Thanks.

[1] A good discussion of Y haplogroups may be found at Wikipedia.

[2] The full chain within the R haplogroup: M207(R), M173(R1), M343(R1b), L754, L389, P297, M269, L23, L51, P310, L151, U106, Z2265, BY30097, Z381, Z301, L48, Z9, Z331, Z330, Z326, Z8168, FGC10367, Z319, Z8171, CTS2509, FGC564, FT7559, S11906, FT83873

[3] "Matching" Y haplogroups is a difficult topic. If the author's brother were to get a Y DNA test, the resulting haplogroup is unlikely to be R-FT83873, even if the same lab is used. This is mainly because the depths of testing will differ or the haplogroup is estimated.


A thanks and a tip of the hat to the following people who have contributed significantly to the basic research of the Billiters of Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

In alphabetical order:

Ellen K Billiter, Ralph P Billiter, Joan D Bivens, Kathy Booher, Marsha Bovey, Pat Clare, John Curry, Kay Nolan Dawson, James E Dewar, Mary Evelyn Downing, David M Gerth, Judi Henderson, Janette Josserand, Donna Llewellyn Lester, Georgia Lewis, Mae Nolan, Darrell Oakford, Gary Patterson, Henry C Peden, Jr, Karen J Romick, Lovey C Silvis, Gladys L Treadway, and F Edward Wright.

And special recognition to Donna Llewellyn Lester for the artwork (published here with permission) depicting Joe the Boat Builder as a young man building a keelboat on the Monongahela River in Belle Vernon, PA. Her work conjures up new images of Joe for me. I see him there as a fairly young man, maybe in his early 30's, sleeves rolled up, perhaps around 1802, the father of five at that time, black hair (probably to start to gray when John was born in 1816), robust, hardened by outdoor work, but clever enough to have mastered the art of building river boats. Noah C Sr would be about a year old and he would be home with mother, Sarah Seward Billiter, his three young sisters, and Joseph Jr who is perhaps 7 years old at the time. I see Joe's next planks staged for work in the grass near the bow, a saw and some sawhorses, indicating that he is a meticulous organizer. The grass is lush, and the Mon is gurgling along merrily, so I'll guess Joe is working on a comfortable day in the spring, but sweating a bit nevertheless. It appears to be overcast, but not raining, so I imagine that Joe was happy to be alive on such a day as Donna depicted.

Also, Lucy Ann Billiter re-created, pixel-by-pixel, the Billiter Coat-of-Arms shield reported by The Hall of Names Inc. folks to be the earliest for the name Billiter in England. It is shown at the top of this page.

Other Billiter Family Web Sites

The Billiter Family Genealogy Forum. General discussion about Billiter roots.

Informative Links about Billiter Backgrounds and Research Locations

Monroe County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Some Billiter family progeny thrive in Monroe County to this day. They descend from pioneers who arrived in Monroe Co in the early-to-mid 19C from Pennsylvania. (Courtesy Karen Romick and Jim Billiter)

Probable Civil War era photographs of John Billiter and wife Lucy Ann Crow. Courtesy Earl Billiter, Karen Romick, and Ralph Billiter.

Sarah Jane Billiter Bowman's genealogical biography by John Curry, Sarah's gg-grandson. Sarah's genealogical biography depicts the westward migration of a real Billiter-Bowman family through several generations into the then American northwest in the early to middle 19C.

Early American Billiters in the Delmarva - Notes and Sources by Jim Billiter. My notes for the early Delmarva Billiter lines (1671-1840) in chronological order. To be updated as new details are developed.

Ahnentafel relationship calculator. Provided here as a general genealogy utility. While it does not apply to this Billiter descendants genealogy, it may be useful if you have occasion to read ancestry (pedigree) reports that use Ahnentafel numbers.

Memorials to Deceased Veterans of Billiter and Allied Families

James Russell Billiter, Jr

Leonard Fredrick Kaiser


Copyright © 1985-2017 James H Billiter. My compilations and commentaries on this Web page are herewith placed in the public domain. Citation is requested.

[Please note: some copyrighted material is reproduced here with permission of the authors, who are cited appropriately. Their original works are not in the public domain and may not be legally copied from this location.]