The Erway / Ervay / Ervey Family

An American Family,

the descendants of Conrad Ervay (175? - 1819).


by Charles Eugene Erway  III, [email protected]

Original drafts 3/9/1981 & 5/15/1982 (sent to many);

same document 1/2003 for the website:

except for a few added [new comments in italic notes]



            The history of a family is one small part of the greater history of nations and movements, times and events.  As generation succeeds generation, each individual takes part in the shaping of the present and passes on some measure of himself or herself to the lives that continue.  In turn, although everyone is related to all others over the reaches of time, to some extent the family line whose name we inherit does tend to provide us with an identity and a sense of place in the flow of generations.  It is with these thoughts in mind that I have begun to trace this particular family tree. [If completed, the family tree addressed here would include everyone named Erway, Ervay or Ervey, among others.] 


            The following pages recite the earliest history that I have learned to date of the family whose name is now variously spelled Erway, Ervay or Ervey.  The name derives from early “Dutch” settlement in North America, but these spellings are of American origin.  They bear witness to a frontier farmer from the Appalachian region of New Jersey named Conrad Erwe(n), among other spellings, who moved with most of his family to the southern end of the Finger Lakes region in western New York shortly after 1800, and at about that time seems to have dropped the final “n” from the name to become Conrad Ervey, again among other spellings.  [My oral tradition is that our original Conrad Ervey/Ervay/Erway was some variety of "Dutch."  Various early NJ records mentioned later, where he was a co-executor of estates, show him as "Coonrod," which is the Dutch & Belgian-Flemish variant of Conrad. In the late 1700’s in NJ his Palatine German fellow church members kept trying to Germanize his family name to Erbe, etc., and the British kept trying to Anglicize his family name to Erwin, etc., but he and his descendants kept spelling it Ervey/Ervay/Erway. There is a page in Snell's, a source noted later, listing circa 1770 founders of one of the early NJ German Reformed churches near the Delaware Water Gap, including a Conrad Haerve or some such spelling.  I suspect our Conrad came from the region of Herveland (pronounced Ervay-land), or its capital, the town of Herve (Ervay), all now in Belgium. That is located at the three corners where now the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet, only about 10 miles southwest of Aachen, Germany.  Belgium was part of the Netherlands until 1831, long after our name came to America.  The people of Herveland (Ervayland) spoke a Dutch/German dialect until about 1800, when Napoleon’s Army conquered the area, and so now they speak Walloon, a dialect of French. This Herveland origin of our name is just a guess, but in fall 2002 my two children visited the small Belgian town of Herve (Ervay). People in the U.S. today who spell their name Herve came to America later (not descendants of our Conrad). In our American family now  the most common spelling is Erway, next Ervay, then Ervey, but prior to 1850-60  or so the spelling varied even within the same line, such as with one brother spelling it Ervay and another Erway, as the frontier moved west and those in touch with other family members tried to agree on a spelling.].


Today this family is spread from coast to coast, yet the primary concentration [for Ervay/Erway] remains in the vicinity of the Finger Lakes and extends southwesterly into rural northern Pennsylvania where an annual Erway reunion is held.  There is also a sizeable secondary concentration of the family in southern Michigan, as well as smaller ones elsewhere, which reflect the westward movement of the 1800’s.  Like many other families that settled the land at an early date, this one generally has remained close to the land but also has produced its share of tradesmen, businessmen, laborers, teachers, doctors, ministers, lawyers, politicians and other assorted saints and sinners.

This is as yet a work in progress, covering roughly the period 1780-1830.  There are bound to be mistakes in this account, and I would appreciate being corrected on any matters or details on which a reader may have conflicting or additional information.  Although much will always remain hidden in the mists of time, I believe there is much more yet that can be learned from others and from research of the many archives and records which remain to be explored. 


Background Regarding the Family Name


            According to my line of family oral tradition, the family was originally “Dutch” and had settled in northwestern New Jersey prior to the American Revolution.  I am not yet sure whether this ancestry stems from the Holland Dutch, or from the German Dutch or Deutsch who came from the many small dukedoms further up the Rhine.  The term “Dutch” originally referred to both Hollanders as well as Rhinelanders [a/k/a Palatines], and both settled in northwestern New Jersey at a very early date.  According to another line of family oral tradition, from California, the family was originally German; I now suspect that is correct [in 1981 I said this - it was close but not quite right] and that the family came from somewhere in the lower Rhine region of what is now West Germany.   


There is other common ground in these two lines of oral tradition regarding a lost inheritance tale which traces the family back to Europe.  As I understand it, in the old country parents disapproved of a marriage – she was Jewish and he was a Gentile – and as a result the young couple sailed for America.  Years later, according to one account, an unclaimed inheritance left to them was placed in a bank in the old country. Arrangements were made to lay claim to the money, but some circumstance intervened and the inheritance was lost.  If anyone else knows more about that tale, it might well help pin down the time and place of the family’s emigration to America.


            As of this time I have been unable to trace the family prior to the American Revolution.  In part this is due to the fact that I have not been to any state archives, where Colonial records generally are kept.  In the early records that I have seen, it is difficult to trace the family because of widely varying spellings.  Prior to the Civil War most people in this country were illiterate, while those who could write tended to spell by guess.  As a result names were often spelled many different ways as they were recorded by various ministers, clerks and census takers.


            Our name, which originally may have been pronounced in a Dutch/Deutsch fashion somewhat like air-vay, appears to have been recorded in early records in just about every way possible within a general range of spellings such as Erwe, Erbe, Ervine, Irwin, Arwine, etc.  As far as I can determine, all  those spellings, and yet others, originally represented only two distinct family names.  One was Dutch (Holland and German) meaning, interestingly, to inherit, and usually spelled Erwe, Erve, or Erbe; the other was Scotch (Scots Gaelic) meaning green valley, and usually spelled Erwin, Irvin or Irving.  By the time of Revolution there were people with such names spread throughout the colonies, although I believe that most of them would have been Scotch-Irish.  (final “n”). 


Early Records in Sussex County, New Jersey


            The family’s identifiable roots begin on the New Jersey side of the upper Delaware River just after the Revolution.  By way of background, a substantial frontier settlement known as the Minisink or Walpack community had developed there in the century prior to the Revolution.  Around 1650 the New Netherlands Holland Dutch had built the Old Mine Road, the first significant inland road in America, from Kingston, New York on the Hudson, through the mountains where New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey now meet and then along the New Jersey side of the Delaware to the Delaware Water Gap.  The New Netherlands Dutch and some Huguenots settled along that stretch of the Delaware at the end of the 1600’s and during the early 1700’s.  At the same time, Deutschers [Palatines] were leaving the Rhineland in great numbers, embarking from Rotterdam, arriving in southeastern Pennsylvania and gradually spreading up the Delaware.  These two movements of people met and intermingled in the general vicinity of the Delaware Water Gap.  As a result a rustic Dutch speaking community, largely isolated from the British colonial governments to the east and south, was well established along the upper Delaware by the time the English and Scotch-Irish began to arrive around 1750.


            The region of this early frontier settlement in New Jersey consists of the first ranges and valleys of the Appalachians.  It is pleasant country; the land now bears a mixture of Indian, Dutch and English place names while the population and the patchwork pattern of farms and forested hills have not changed greatly during the last century.  This region was included in several New Jersey counties prior to 1753, when it was split off of Morris County as Sussex County.  In 1824 that in turn was divided into the present-day Sussex County and Warren County, but prior to that division there was a Hartwick or Hardwick Township which included the present day Sussex County townships of Stillwater and Fredon, as well as the present Warren County townships of Hardwick and Frelinghuysen.  The first definite records of the family come from two churches located at about the center of that area, roughly fifteen miles east of the Delaware Water Gap.  That particular area, along the valley of the Paulinskill, was first settled in the 1740’s by several families from the Palatinate and by other Rhinelanders who followed them.  That heritage is reflected in the names of many of the early members of these churches.


            At the Sussex County Historical Society in Newton, New Jersey, there is a slim typed volume, donated in 1967, that is entitled “Hartwick Church Baptisms 1780-1819.”  The dozen or so pages of this otherwise unidentified volume include the following entries:


            Johannes                      Feb. 9, 1782                Conrad & Juliana Erwen

            Abraham                      July 24, 1782               Conrad & Juliana Erwen

            Isaac                            Dec. 8, 1783                Conrad & Juliana Erben

            Elisabeth                       Feb. 16, 1785              Conrad & Juliana Erben

            Johann Conrad Sept. 27, 1787             Conrad & Juliana Erbe

            Carl Friedrich               Feb. 17, 1790              Conrad & Juliana Erbe

            [Phillip]                       Oct. 1, 1792                Conrad & Juli…….

            [George]                      Oct. 29, 1792              Conrad & Juliana Erwn

            Johann [Heinrich]        July 8, 1800                 Conrad & Catharina Erwn


            A differing and presumably more accurate version of these baptismal records is attached as Attachment A [Genealogical Magazine of NJ, May 1967, vol. 42, no. 2, at p. 38].  I believe this Hardwick Church may have been what is now the Yellow Frame Presbyterian Church on the Sussex/Warren County line, but the attachment A source instead attributes these baptisms to the First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater, two miles to the north.  At the time apparently both churches were [German and/or] Dutch Reformed and their members mostly Rhinelanders.  Another typed volume at the Sussex County Historical Society entitled “Baptisms Stillwater (German) Reformed Church 1773-1800” lists “Conrad Erwin” as a father of unidentified children baptized there (the present FPC of Stillwater); that is also noted in Snell’s History of Sussex & Warren Counties (“Snell’s”).  Although that may only refer to the same baptisms, there do seem to have been at least three other children born prior to 1780: William and Sarah, noted later; and Catharine, baptized ten miles southwest at the Presbyterian Church in Knowlton (at the time German Reformed, see NJ Historical Society 1918, v. III, p. 182):


            Maria Catharina b.11/26/1776,   bapt. 5/4/1777,   Conrath & Juliana Erb


            Apparently Juliana died in 1799; a headstone in the Stillwater Presbyterian church cemetery reads “Juda Arvay 1799” [with several lines of poetic prose after that]. Subsequently, as is recorded in Snell’s at p. 381, on Oct. 3, 1799, Rev. Jacob Senn of the Stillwater Church married “Conrad Erwin” and Catharine Mengel; her family was one of the earliest Rhinelander families in that area.  In another typed record at the Sussex County Historical Society this marriage is noted as “Erevin, Conrad (Hardwick) to Catharine Mengle.”  The same two sources also note the marriage of Conrad’s eldest daughter “Erwine, Catharine (Hardwick) to George Wildrick” on Feb. 21, 1796.  Among a number of other late 1700’s Sussex County references, in 1791 “Conrad Erwine” was a co-administrator of the estate of George Bell, and in 1795 “Coonrod Arwine” was co-administrator of the estate of William Savercool; other spellings include “Erwe.” The originals of the estate papers noted are on file at the county seat, Newton, as well as at Trenton, and bear Conrad’s signature (see, e.g., Attachments B & C).


            The area had been a major focus of activity during the Revolution, but the records of Jerseymen soldiers of the Revolution do not list any appropriately named Conrad.  It appears Conrad was married, had infant children at home, and did not enlist, although I have not seen the militia records for Pennsylvania.  I understand that only relatively few Dutch/Deutsch did take part, as from their point of view the conflict may have seemed essentially a civil war among and between the English and Scotch-Irish.  [At the time of the American Revolution the population was about 3  English, 3 Scotch-Irish (Scots who had lived in Ireland for a while), 3 “Dutch,” and 3  others, primarily African slaves down south].  Later in the 1793 militia census of New Jersey, however, “Conrad Ervine” was listed as a member of the Company of Artillery raised in the Township of Hardwick, Sussex County.  There were also two “William Erwine”s in the general militia in Sussex County; they were the only similarly named others listed in the county (of the two Williams, one may have been Conrad’s brother).  Although these names or other similar spellings were not uncommon, I believe both Williams were relatives but at present that remains speculation.  There are some very early references to Arwine & etc. spelling families in the Sussex, Warren, and Hunterdon County, NJ area and more may yet be learned.  As for the U.S. census records, which began with 1790, unfortunately the New Jersey records prior to 1830 have been lost.


            Jumping ahead in time, some members of the family have remained in Sussex County up to the present.  I believe that the “William Erwin” who bought land there in 1800 may have been the eldest son of Conrad, but he may have been a nephew.  This William lived on what became the border of Sussex and Warren County.  Other records show he had two sons, Conrad and Jacob M., and that during the early 1800’s their last name went through various spellings such as Ervine, Ervay and Arvay before this Conrad settled on the spelling Ervey.  This apparent grandson (or nephew) Conrad was born in 1801, later bought more land in that area from the Mains family (one of the early families in the Stillwater church), is mentioned in Snell’s at p. 386, administered the estate of his father when William died in Stillwater in 1832, and eventually died there himself in 1865.  His lands were sold and most of his family moved to Morris County, but his eldest son John N. Ervey named his eldest son George Conrad Ervey, and in turn some of his descendants now live almost exactly where this account began.


Sullivan’s Expedition and the Migration to the Finger Lakes


            The Revolution moved the frontier from the upper Delaware to the northwest.  Following raids against the Minisink region and other frontier areas by Tories, British and their Iroquois allies, a large Colonial force was raised along the Delaware to strike at the base of those operations.  The expedition was led by General Sullivan [and General Clinton], departed late summer of 1779 and traveled northwest, up the Susquehanna, until the British, Tories and Indians were met and defeated at the decisive Battle of Newtown, near Elmira, NY. Thereafter, the enemy forces and much of the Iroquois population as well retreated to Fort Niagara.  Sullivan’s forces proceeded northward by several routes through the Finger Lakes region, the heartland of the Iroquois nation, burning over a hundred quite large Iroquois villages and towns as well as their harvested crops at the onset of winter.  As a result of the Sullivan expedition, the power of the great Iroquois nation was destroyed.


            Following the Revolution, many of Sullivan’s soldiers gradually began to return to settle among the scenic Finger Lakes.  That name derives from an Iroquois legend that Manitou’s hands had created the long and deep (glacial) lake valleys when he leaned forward to see the best portion of his creation.  Interestingly, as the area was settled in the first several decades of the new republic, the revival of interest in the classics during that era caused many of the place names in this frontier region to be taken from the cities of the ancient Greeks and Romans, a somewhat distinctive feature of the region which remains to this day.  These were the circumstances of the pioneer migration to the lake country, a migration in which our patriarch Conrad took part.


            Family oral tradition has preserved the story of the move to the Finger Lakes.  Years ago my granduncle Reverend Herbert Eugene Erway used to recall family history for me when he, my father and I would go hunting in the hills between Ithaca, NY and Elmira, our home.  His information was acquired from a number of sources – his father was a grandson of Conrad Jr. and his mother was a granddaughter of Elizabeth (both of whom are listed in the Hardwick baptisms), while his youth and early years as a Methodist minister had taken him all over the hill country counties at the southern end of the Finger Lakes, where more of the family remained at that time than now.  Although much of Uncle Herbert’s knowledge passed away with him when he died in 1977 at the age of 82, I did take a few notes as a child, while two of his correspondents have provided me with copies of some letters that he had written to them.  According to the oral tradition preserved by Uncle Herbert, his maternal great grandmother Elizabeth was born February 16, 1786 in northern New Jersey, married David Cosper about 1802, and then David and Elizabeth moved to the frontier settlement of Ithaca, New York at the southern end of Cayuga Lake, accompanied by Elizabeth’s little brother Henry.  Shortly thereafter Elizabeth’s father [Conrad] followed and settled a few miles to the north, above the east shore of the lake, and later David and Elizabeth moved south of Ithaca to the Town of Spencer.  Uncle Herbert also recalled that Elizabeth came from a large family and that a number of her half-brothers also followed and settled in the area, including “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, George, Conrad (Jr.) and others.”  On the basis of the Hardwick baptisms, however, I believe that over the years this account about half-brothers must have been turned around; those brothers would have been Elizabeth’s full brothers, while I believe that it was Henry, instead, who would have been Elizabeth’s half-brother.  Later records indicate Henry was born in 1800, and so I believe that he must have been the “Johann [Heinrich]” baptized at the Hardwick church in 1800 (Henry was his middle name) and that he was the only child of Conrad’s second wife, Catharine.


            Turning to official records, in 1806 “Conrad Ervey” did purchase a 66 acre tract of land a couple of miles north of Ithaca, overlooking the lake and located along the Cayuga County side of what was at the time the southern boundary of the Township of Milton, Cayuga County.  That township was re-designated the Town of Genoa in 1808, and then this southern portion was split off as the Town of Lansing, Tompkins County when the latter was created in 1817.  Conrad bought his land from Jacob Savacool, whom I noticed in the earlier New Jersey records had been a fellow member with Conrad in the Hardwick Company of Artillery, as well as a member of the Stillwater church.  Apparently there was a settlement of Hardwick “Dutch” in that area [formerly Pleasant Grove], now the border area of the Towns of Lansing and Ithaca in Tompkins County, as the names of a number of early settlers match the family names from the Hardwick records.  This family homestead near Ithaca remained in the family for nearly a century.  It was sold by foreclosure against the heirs of “Henry Ervy” in 1890, and that deed notes that Henry had acquired the land from his father “Conrad Ervey” although there is more to that story as noted later.  The site now includes the intersection of NY Route 13 and Triphammer Road (Triphammer Shopping Center), and the areas to the west of that intersection, which is located at the northern edge of the Village of Cayuga Heights, a fashionable suburb of Ithaca adjoining Cornell University.  For those who may have occasion to drive by that area, the town line intersects Triphammer Road at the Sheraton Inn.  From about that point, Conrad’s farm extended 0.25 of a mile to the west and 0.4 of a mile to the north (Triphammer Road runs to the NNW).  (See map, Attachment D).


The Census Records for 1810 and 1820


            The 1810 census indicates that most of Conrad’s family had moved to the vicinity of Ithaca.  Conrad was recorded at the farm, in what was then still the Town of Genoa, Cayuga County, as “Conrad Irwin,” over 45, with a wife also over 45.  Two sons were recorded in his household, one 10-15 and one 16-20.  The younger one would have been Henry, while the elder would probably have been George.  Conrad’s immediate neighbor was recorded as “Conrad Erwin, Jr.(i.e., “Johann Conrad” from the Hardwick baptisms), and wife, both 16-25.  Nearby, all clustered as neighbors in the Town of Ulysses, (then) in Seneca County, were “John Erwey” (i.e., “Johannes” from the Hardwick baptisms) and wife, both 26-44; “Isaac Eruey,” 26-44, and wife 16-25; “Charles Ervey” (i.e., “Carl F.” from the Hardwick baptisms) and wife, both 16-25; and also Jacob Teats and wife, both 26-44.  Records noted later indicate that Jacob Teats’ wife, Sarah, was Conrad’s daughter, and so I believe that this “Uncle Jacob” may have been the “Jacob” recalled in the family oral account recited.  Jacob Teats was also another fellow member with Conrad in the Hardwick Company of Artillery.  This family cluster in Ulysses may well have been located in Ithaca, or possibly right next to Conrad’s farm, as prior to 1821 the Town of Ulysses included the present City and Town of Ithaca.  However, David Cosper, 26-44, and wife (Elizabeth), 16-25, were recorded some miles away in the Town of Spencer, Tioga County, New York, which at that time included quite a large area to the south and southwest.


            The 1810 census contains a few other noteworthy entries.  Several miles to the northwest of Ithaca, in the Town of Ovid, Seneca County, there were two young couples in one household: “Abraham Irvin,” 26-44, a second young man 16-25, and their two wives, both 16-25.  This was probably Conrad’s son Abraham, noted in the oral account and in the Hardwick baptisms, and possibly also Phillip, noted later.  Their immediate neighbors there were recorded as “William Irvin” and (childless) wife, both over age 45; this William may have been a brother of Conrad.  (Of the two Williams in 1793 NJ militia, this would be the older one; the younger one stayed in Stillwater, NJ.)


Otherwise, there were only another two similarly named families in the area as of 1810.  [The remoteness of those others, who were not our family, reinforces that all of the above were our family]. One was an Ervin (and other spellings) family from the mid-Hudson that had settled much further north in Cayuga County.  The other was an Erwin (and other spellings) Scotch-Irish family from Bucks County, Pennsylvania that had settled in Steuben County at Painted Post, later the Town of Erwin.  (The patriarch of that family had been Col. Erwin, an officer of the Sullivan Expedition and an early land speculator, who was killed by one of his tenant farmers in the late 1700’s).


Turning to the 1820 census, Conrad (Sr.) had recently passed away.  Catherine Irway,” over 45, was listed as head of the household at the farm in what had recently become the Town of Lansing, Tompkins County, apparently still the only land owned by any of the family.  There were again two sons in the household, this time one 16-25 (Henry), and one 26-44 (probably Conrad Jr., but if so his wife and children were not listed), while her immediate neighbor was recorded as “George Irway,” 26-44, and wife 16-25.  Still remaining in the Town of Ulysses, Tompkins County were “John Irwin” and wife, both 26-44, Jacob Teats, over 465, and his wife (Sarah) 26-44.  However, a new concentration of the family had begun to develop fifteen or so miles to the west and southwest of Ithaca.  “David Casper” and wife (Elizabeth), “Isaac Erwey” and wife, as well as a new listing, “Phillip Erwey” and wife, all 26-44, were neighbors in the Town of Catharine, (then) in Tioga County, while a bit further north “Charles Irway” and wife, both 26-44, were in the Town of Hector, (then) in Tompkins County.  Abraham was not recorded anywhere in the area, but a “William Irwin” and wife, again over 45, as were Abraham’s 1810 neighbors, were Charles’ neighbors in Hector [again Conrad’s brother?].  This suggests that Phillip and his wife may have been the second couple living in Abraham’s 1810 household.  Conrad Jr., and probably George as well, later moved to this Hector/Catharine area also.


There were quite a few grandchildren by 1820 in the various households, and had been a few in 1810, but unfortunately prior to 1850 the census records did not list the names of anyone other than the head of the household.  This presents a bit of a problem, as I have the names and in many cases the subsequent lineages of over two dozen of Conrad’s grandsons who were born and/or raised in the Hector/Catharine area, near Watkins Glen [& Ithaca], NY, in what is now Schuyler County, but cannot yet match all of these many lines.  [As of 2003, still some of those loose ends are not yet matched up].


            A composite of Conrad’s children based on these and some later census records, as well as the Sussex County, NJ records, is as follows:


Census data

Baptized as




Catharine, b. ?

Maria Catharina

Nov. 26, 1776

May 4, 1777

William (nephew?),   b. by 1780


approx. 1774


Sarah,   b. 1775-84




John,   b. 1781


Feb. 9, 1781

May 2, 1781

Abraham,   b. 1765-84


July 24, 1782

Sep. 11, 1782

Isaac,   b. 1780-84


Dec. 8, 1783

Feb. 15, 1784

Elizabeth,   b. 1784-94


Feb. 16, 1786

Mar. 14, 1786

Conrad Jr.,   b. 1784-94

Johann Conrad

Sep. 27, 1787

Nov. 4, 1787

Charles,   b. 1784-90

Carl Friedrich

Feb. 17, 1790

May 2, 1790

Phillip,   b. 1790-94

Johann Philipp

May 1, 1792

June 1, 1792

George,   b. 1790-94

Johann Georg

Oct. 29, 1794*

Dec. 2, 1794

Henry,   b. 1800

Johann Heinrich

July 8, 1800*

Feb. 20, 1801*

            * These dates are not the same as those noted in the Attachment A source.


Conrad’s Death and the Quitclaim Deeds


            Conrad (Sr.) passed away sometime at the beginning of the year 1819.  On February 23, 1819, a  single page letter of estate administration was filed in the new county seat of Ithaca by his wife Catharine and son George, noting that “Conradt Ervay, late of the Town of Lansing” had recently died intestate [no Will].  Presumably he was buried at the farm.  Three decades later, Catharine was buried nearby in the Kline or “Pleasant Grove” Cemetery in the Town of Ithaca.  Her [flat-to-ground] stone reads “Catharine, wife of Conrad Ervay, dec. 1848 aged 90 years.”


            Conrad’s estate was settled informally.  In 1820 most of Conrad’s heirs quitclaimed to a James Hanshaw, a new neighbor who had recently bought a small adjoining farm from another member of the Savacool family.  Others quitclaimed to James Hanshaw in 1822, and then in 1833 holdout Isaac quitclaimed to brother Henry, and so did James Hanshaw.  The following were listed as heirs of Conrad Erway, Ervay or Arway in the respective deeds:


Grantors listed



Signature *

(* At each X mark was written “his mark” or “her mark,” indicating that it was probably the witness who signed for that person).

April 10, 1820 quitclaim deed, Tompkins County, Book E pp. 529-31:
  (to James Hanshaw, Town of Lansing, for $480)

Jacob Teets &
Sarah his wife

Tompkins County

Edm G. Pelton

Jacob X Teets

Sarah X Teets

John Erway &
Christina his wife

Tompkins County

Evert Green

John Erway
Christianna X Erway

Conrad Erway &
Jane his wife

Tompkins County


(did not sign)

David Cosper &
Elizabeth his wife

Tompkins County

Derrick Voorhes

David Cosper

Elizabeth Cosper

Charles Erway &
Susannah his wife

Tompkins County

Jonathan Benson

Charles Arway
Susannah X Arway

Isaac Erway &
Lydia his wife

Tioga County, NY


(did not sign)

Phillip Erway &
Amia his wife

Tioga County, NY

Azaiiah Dunham

Phillip Erway
Amy X Erway

George Erway &
Polly his wife

Tompkins County


(did not sign)

January 5, 1822 quitclaim deed, Tompkins County Book CC  pp. 118-19:
  (to James Hanshaw, Town of Lansing, for $240)

Isaac Ervay &
Lydia his wife

T. of Catharine
  Tioga County, NY


(did not sign)

Conrod Ervay &
Jane his wife

T. of Ithaca
  Tompkins County

Evert Green

Conrod X Ervay
Jane Ervay

George Ervay &
Polly his wife

T. of Ithaca
  Tompkins County

Evert Green

George Ervay
Polly X Ervay

Henry Ervay

T. of Lansing


(did not sign)

March 5, 1833 quitclaim deed, Tompkins County Book DD  p. 156:
  (to Henry Erway, Town of Lansing, for $60)

Isaac Arway &
Lydia his wife

T. of Catharine
  Tioga County, NY

Cyrus Beers

Isaac Arway
Lydia Arway

April 10, 1833 quitclaim deed, Tompkins County Book DD  p. 155:
  (James Hanshaw to Henry Ervay, for $730)

            This unusual set of quitclaim deeds provides a rather good reference for verifying that Sarah, John, Conrad (Jr.), Elizabeth, Charles, Isaac, Phillip, George and Henry were all members of the family.  As noted previously, there were at least two other sons who were not in the area and were not listed: Abraham, and the William who remained in New Jersey, but the passage of time has long since extinguished the rights of their lines to claim an interest in that farm.  The quitclaim deeds also seem to tell an interesting story – the heirs managed to keep the farm in the family and also get $60 each, a large amount of money on the frontier in those days.  Following Conrad’s death, many of his sons and grandsons moved onward, some near and some far, as the frontier continued to move westward.


Overview of the Subsequent Lines


            A partial family tree of the first two generations after Conrad is Attachment E (per 1982 draft).  If completed, this family tree would include everyone named Erway, Ervay or Ervey, among others.  Those of us who are working on it still have many loose ends to connect up, but a brief overview of the family lines is as follows [P.S. we’ve made great progress since 1981/82!  See family tree at:].


            Catharine (Wildrick) & Sarah (Teets/Dietz): Descendants unknown.


            William: William’s descendants in New Jersey spell the name Ervey, see p. 4; others may have continued the Ervay spelling.


            John:  In 1829 John and Christina moved about 75 miles west-southwest of Ithaca, where they settled on 200 acres in Harrison Township, in the northeastern corner of Potter County, Pennsylvania. [His 1862 headstone there reads “John Ervay].  (The townships next to Harrison – Ulysses and Hector – were named after those in Tompkins County.)  Many of John’s descendants, particularly the line of his son George Kelsey, continue to live in that general area and attend an annual Erway reunion near Gold, Pennsylvania.  John’s eldest son Jacob later moved [west, and in turn one of his sons] to Texas. [There Henry Schley Ervay, the only known member of the family on the Confederate States side of the Civil War, with dozens of cousins in the Union Army] became 1870-82 mayor of Dallas, with the result that one of the main streets of Dallas is named Ervay Street.  [But most of this line spell the name Erway].


            Abraham: By 1820 Abraham apparently had settled nearly one hundred miles south of Ithaca, in Columbia County, Pennsylvania.  His descendants probably retained a final “n” (A/Erwine) spelling.  [Maybe not the same Abraham].


            Isaac: As of 1830 Isaac and Lydia remained in the Township of Catharine, where they lived at Havana, which is now the village of Montour Falls, NY.  (The Township of Catharine became part of Chemung County when that was erected in 1836, then was included in Schuyler County when that was erected in 1854; shortly thereafter this western portion was split off Catharine as the Township of Montour, Schuyler County).  Most of their many sons later lived twenty miles to the southwest near Corning, NY, then moved to lower Michigan before and after the Civil War.  Only one of their sons, Ira, and his line, remained in New York.  [Nearly] all of Isaac’s descendants spell the name Erway.


            Elizabeth (Cosper): In 1826, after Elizabeth had died, David Cosper moved with most of his family to Westfield Township, in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, just east of Harrison Township.  He had served in the War of 1812 and had been the local constable somewhere in the Spencer/Havana/Hector area.  His descendants are written up in The Cosper Family, published in 1972 by David R. Cosper.


            Conrad Jr.: In 1823, Conrad Jr. purchased 201 acres near the village of Burdett in the Township of Hector (now in Schuyler County), neighboring his brother Charles and overlooking Seneca Lake.  [Conrad Jr. and brother Charles F. both married daughters of the wealthy owner of the Fall Creek Mill in Ithaca, Benjamin Cradit, whose 1823 Will gave them their land in Hector, where they cleared forest and traded “ashes” for “grapes” root stock 1823-1826, according to Cornell Univ. Library records of a local store in Hector Falls, NY] . In 1829 Conrad and Jane sold their land but as of the 1830 census Jane remained there with the children.  She later moved a few miles south to Havana [Millport, NY.], where in later years she lived with the family of niece Jane Cosper Hendry.  Conrad Jr.’s sons James McKinney, Benjamin C., and Jacob Risley (a/k/a “Rice,” my great-great-grandfather) settled in Hector.  [Jacob’s son C.E. built the old brick house overlooking Seneca Lake, now the home of Chateau Reneau Lafayette vineyards].  Several of Benjamin’s sons later moved on to Harrison Township, Pennsylvania, where one ran the Erway Hotel; sons of James went to Kansas.  In New York, which is still the most populous state for Erways, perhaps a third or more of the Erways statewide are descendants of Conrad Jr.


            Charles: In 1821 Charles bought 98 acres in the Township of Hector, where he and Susannah raised a large family.  [As noted, Charles and brother Conrad Jr. were neighbors in Hector, grew grapes and married Cradit sisters, producing many double-cousins, i.e., cousins with the same set of grandparents].  In 1836 Charles sold his land, moved to St. Joseph County, Michigan and bought land there, where they were rather early pioneers.  One of their sons, Albert H. Erway, continued in the same vein: apparently he reached San Francisco in 1852 [the 1849’er gold rush], had a ranch at Sacramento, later returned to Michigan for his family and eventually settled at Poison Switch in Esmeralda County, Nevada.  Various Midwestern Erways are descendants of Charles’ other sons, but other lines are there as well.


            Phillip: As of 1830 Phillip had moved from the Hector/Catharine cluster twenty miles west to the Township of Urbana, Steuben County, at the southern end of Keuka Lake.  In 1840 his wife or widow Annie or Anna Maria was back in Havana, where she was a neighbor of Conrad Jr.’s wife or widow Jane.  At least two of Phillip’s sons later moved on Michigan, Daniel (Ervay) and Henry W. [he returned to NY and his grandson Harry G. founded Erway Ambulance Co. in Elmira]. Another son, George F. Erway, remained in Havana; another, Phillip Erway, (Jr.) (a son of Phillip Sr., although one record lists his father as Charles) in 1843 settled in Chatham Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where he prospered and raised a large family.  Many of Phillip’s descendants remain in that area and spell the name Erway [but some descendants of Phillip’s son Daniel, who moved to Michigan, spell the name Ervay] . 


            George: In 1830 George remained at the farm in Lansing, but then as of 1840 (possibly?) had joined Abraham in Columbia County, Pennsylvania.  At least one of his sons, Charles L. Ervay, settled in the Tompkins-Schuyler border area near the four corners of the Towns of Newfield, Enfield, Hector and Catharine [Connecticut Hill].  A few others there were probably also sons of George, including Foster Ervay.  Foster was the father of the Ervay quadruplets who were born there in 1855, exhibited by P.T. Barnum and quite famous at the time.  There used to be a state historical marker on Connecticut Hill at the quad’s birthplace.  A number of Ervays remain in that general vicinity.  [The evidence that Foster was a son of George is that (1) Charles L. is a known son of George, and (2) Foster and Charles L. married Wilkins sisters and they lived as neighbors; at that time, brothers marrying sisters was not uncommon.].


            Henry: Henry kept the Family farm just north of Ithaca and married a Lydia Manning. [Johann Heinrich, buried as “Henry Ervy,” with a large tombstone in Pleasant Grove Cemetery, just north of the Cornell campus in Ithaca].  His sons spelled the name Ervy [and/or Ervay], but apparently moved away.


            Thus as of 1830 the family was established throughout the southern end of the Finger Lakes region, particularly in the Hector/Catharine area at the southern end of Seneca Lake, as well as in northern Pennsylvania.  At that time the young nation had survived its first half century, Andrew Jackson was the new President, and in this region log cabins were giving way to frame houses and the trappings of civilization.  The frontier had moved onward, to the Ohio Valley and beyond.  Various pioneering members of the family were soon to do likewise as the nation expanded vigorously westward in the remaining decades prior to the Civil War.


 [original draft] March 9, 1981


Charles Eugene Erway III

115 Maplewood Ave.

Maplewood, NJ 07040


1/7/2003   Here are some of the contributors to the Erway/Ervay/Ervey family tree, at the website:

From the William branch

Reginald Ervey, b. 1911, one of my early 1980s correspondents.

From the John (Johannes) branch

H. May Erway Goodenough, b. 1910, in 1982 provided me a photocopy of her lengthy handwritten account of the descendants of John Ervay/Erway.

From the Isaac branch

Robert James Erway, b. 1925, one of my early 1980s correspondents, did extensive 1982-2000 genealogical research, traveled and visited family members nationwide, resulting in a multi-binder account of most branches of the family, with photos of many.

Mary Mildred Erway Short, b. 1909, one of my early 1980s correspondents in Michigan.

Norma J. Randall, b. 1929, one of my early 1980s correspondents in Michigan.

Jean L. Davis Worden, b.1930, one of my early 1980s correspondents, in 2002 sent me her FamilyTreeMaker 76-page printout of the descendants of Conrad Sr., including much new information on her Rose line.

From the Elizabeth branch

Information from The Cosper Family, published in 1972 by David R. Cosper.

From the Conrad Jr. branch

Jean Erway Nichols (my first cousin), b. 1940, in 2002 sent me her FamilyTreeMaker 28-page printout of the descendants of Jacob Risley Erway.

From the Charles branch

 Milton K. Erway, PhD., b. 1932, d. 1998, and wife Ella PhD., moved to Elmira in the early 1960s and so my father was no longer the only Dr. Erway there; my interest in genealogy began in part with Uncle Herbert trying to figure out how we were related to Milton, the “California” source noted earlier.

Diana Arthur Jenkins, b. 1948, one of my early 1980s correspondents in California, provided old news clippings.

Richard B. Shull, b. 1929, d. 1999, traced the Cradit ancestors of the wives of Charles & Conrad Jr.

From the Phillip branch

Guy Sydney Erway, b. 1918, d. 2001, among my early 1980s correspondents, with his wife Joyce prepared a 190-page account, as of 2001, of most branches of the family, with photos of many.

From the George branch

Denise Ervay, b. 1961, provided an update for many of the descendants of Foster Ervay.


Many thanks also to the dozens of other contributors to the Erway/Ervay/Ervey family tree!

This is still an ongoing project, and everyone’s contribution of information is appreciated.