Documentation is pretty clear that my ancestor, Henry Stahl, died in what is now Franklin county, PA in 1790. The letters of administration for his estate were given to his sons. However, trying to establish who Henry's father was has been a nightmare.
According to a 1945 publication by Lillian Hull (or, in her not very helpful words, "history tells us..."), Henry's father was Henry Eugene Stahl, a Mennonite who settled around Pequea Creek in (then) Chester and (later) Lancaster county, PA in the early 1700s. He is reputed to have come from Switzerland in 1712 and to have lost his wife and 3 children on the 5-month (!) voyage.
Here's the problem. No source was cited for this information and I have found no primary (or even secondary) sources that can back up that claim. The earliest documentary evidence (tax records, etc.) for the Henry who died in 1790 are from about 1750. I've tried looking at the early history of Lancaster county with specific reference to Mennonites and there is no mention of a Henry Stahl in the early settlers there. And, as near as I can tell, there aren't any tax or land records, probate records, or burial records pertaining to a Henry Eugene Stahl in either Chester or Lancaster counties. I find it suspect that someone who supposedly arrived in 1712 failed to leave any record for more than 40 years.
In the meantime, it seems as if everyone who posts genealogical information on this branch of the Stahls makes this claim, sometimes citing the same 1945 source as gospel, and sometimes simply repeating what other
people have done, often using Hull's words verbatim.
If ANYONE could point me toward a source for Hull's claim, I would be eternally grateful. If not, I'm ready to put this in the category of a myth that has become accepted despite a complete lack of evidence. Please prove me wrong.
P.S. I'm much more inclined to think that the Henry who died in 1790 might be the same one who arrived in Sept. 1741 from Rotterdam to Philadelphia. He's much close in time to the records that document his existence.