Adventures in Genealogy: Ligonier, Pennsylvania


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November 27-28, 2012

We left Columbus, Ohio after visiting my sister, Laurel. We had some trouble with a fuse for the trailer lights. Khevron had attempted to add more lights to the trailer, as the ones we had we’re not working all the time—and it blew the fuse. So we had no lights. Took a bit of time to correct.

The town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania

(pronounced LIG’ ON EAR)


Our next goal was the town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, a place I calculated to be a hot-bed of Smith Family genealogical research. I had several people in my genealogy from that town, which was a fort (Fort Ligonier) established in September 1758. At that time, it was the most populated spot in Pennsylvania, second only to Philadelphia, due to the army. of 6,000.

Old Ligonier Fort

Old Ligonier Fort in Pennsylvania

It was used as a staging area for the Forbes Expedition, a British military expedition led by John Forbes to capture Fort Dusquesne. a French fort.

I knew that three families in my ancestry lived here for generations in Ligonier. Pennsylvania. One was the Fisher family. Abel Fisher was born in 1730 in Mt. Mellick, Ireland. He died in 1777 in Ligonier, Pennsyslvania. His son, Mathias Fisher also died near there on 17 Feb 1834 and was buried in the Old Ligonier Cemetery.

Another family was the Roberts line, going back to Robert Morgan Roberts. He was born in 1730 in Maryland but was a prominent settler in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. He married his wife, Mary Richford, when she was 16 years old. They had 11 children. Several generations that lived in Ligonier, including his son, John Roberts (born in 1763).  John’s son, David Shannon Roberts, born in 1800, married Margaret Nicely.

That is our connection to the third family in Ligonier–the Nicely family. They had also been in the area for several generations.

All of these people were there in Ligonier in the early years. So I went to the Ligonier City Library as a starting off place. They had a nice little genealogy section in the basement of the library and a very helpful woman (I believe her name was Shirley) who brought us a bunch of useful books to look at with marriage dates and cemetery records (many of which I still need to look over). And she also turned out to be a distant cousin.

She told me I *had* to contact Ron Nicely, a genealogist from the area. He’d written a book “The Indian Capture of Jacob (Kneisle) Nicely.” It turned out that this book was about the brother of a direct ancestor. And it had a genealogy chapter in it. She was sure that Ron and I were related.

"The Capture of Jacob (Kniesle) Nicely"

“The Capture of Jacob (Kniesle) Nicely”

So I took her advice and called Ron Nicely—who turned out to be a really nice guy. He actually had the genealogy on our side down to my own Mom and Dad (Janyce and Richard). It turned out that he is my 5th cousin, once removed.

Ron Nicely: my fifth cousin once removed.

Ron Nicely: my fifth cousin once removed.


Ron gave me this history of the my side of the Nicely Family.

Hans Knussli, my 7th Great Grandfather, was born in Zurick Switzerland. He moved to Eggiwil in Berne Switzerland where Antonius Kristopher Knussli was born. Hans and Antonius moved to Alsace France. Hans died there and Antonius had most of his children born there. In 1717, Antonius (my 6th Great Grandfather) moved to Lancaster, PA. He sired Adam Nicely Sr. (my 5th Great Grandfather) in Lancaster. Antonius died and is buried in Lancaster and Adam Sr. moved to Ligonier in 1761 and was the first of our line to move here. He had a son Anthony Sr. (Named after Adam’s father), who built a house that we got to visit the following day. Adam Sr. had a 2nd son Adam Jr. (named after himself) who was my 4th Great Grandfather and his home was on Log Cabin road that we also got a chance to visit. Jacob (most likely the name of Adam’s wife’s father) who was captured by Indians was a younger brother of Anthony Sr. and Adam Jr. They also had 5 other sisters.

We stayed overnight near there. He met us the next morning and took us all over town for a grand tour.

We visited a reconstruction of the Lochry’s Blockhouse, a safe-haven from Indian attacks in the area in the 1700′s. It also served as an armory for rifles and powder following the American Revolution.

Lochry's Blockhouse

Lochry’s Blockhouse: A safe haven from early Indian attacks

He also showed us several cemeteries. First the Keltz Cemetery.

The Keitz cemetery in Ligonier, PA

The Keitz cemetery in Ligonier, PA


And the Ligonier Valley Cemetery, which rests on a hill above the town.

Ligonier Valley Cemetery

Ligonier Valley Cemetery


Grave of Adam Nicely Sr., born 1730
Grave of Adam Nicely Sr., born 1730

Adam Nicely was born in 1730. The photo here shows his new gravestone along with the old gravestone. He served in the Revolutionary war.

Ron also showed us the Nicely family farm. Adam Nicely had been given 1200 acres back when Fort Ligonier was being used. He showed us an old Nicely family home on the farm, built by Anthony Nicely, Sr, son of Adam Nicely. A relative of Ron’s bought this home and is fixing up to give tours.

The Old Nicely Family Home

The Old Nicely Family Home, Built in 1810

The Nicely Family Barn

The Nicely Family Barn

Fixing up the old Nicely Family home

Fixing up the old Nicely Family home

Ron knew all the history of the area, when many of the houses were built and who originally owned them. He gave us a good history lesson of Ligonier. We were glad of the company and the family tales. Also, we bought a copy of his book, which I’m told is available on Amazon.

The family house that Ron grew up in

The family house that Ron grew up in

Nicely Road

Our ancestors have their own street…

Zion Methodist church, founded by our ancestors

Zion Methodist church, founded by our ancestors

So the trip to Ligonier was well worth it.

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One Response to Adventures in Genealogy: Ligonier, Pennsylvania

  1. Marian Smith Kingdon says:

    Wonderful comments here. So glad you were able to see the area and learn more about our ancestors who lived there. Abel Fisher and Rachel Whoowee (Irish Quakeress) settled here, too. They have a story to tell as he was a Britsh dragoon and they immigrated from Northern Ireland in the early 1700′s.