Leonard Killian son of Andreas Killian
New Info: March 26, 2008 By researcher William McCreight,
a North Carolina native now living in Germany. On 30 April 1724
the son of Andreas Kilian, the younger, and Margaretha Fischer
Kilian was baptized in Erzberg and named Leonhardt after the
child's godfather, Leonhardt Steyern, a blacksmith from
Wildenholz. Wildenholz is one mile south of Steinbach. Andreas
Kilian, the younger, was described as a weaver. This baptismal
record is consistent with the date of Leonhardt's birth taken
from his grave mark.
Leonard Killian is the second child, and first son, of Andreas
Killian (1702 - 1788) the pioneer who came to America from
Germany in 1732. Although in Germany Andreas' name was
Kilian (with one "L") he used the two "L" form after his arrival
in America. His descendants use mostly the two "L" form of
the name as he did. However, some of Leonard's descendants
use the name Killion. (Note the use of "O" in the name
rather than the more common "A". Bill Hinds, of Florida
has made a long term study of Leonard's descendants and has a
web site with many thousands of his descendants. In like
manner Ed Killian, of Mississippi has studied the descendants of
Andreas' son, George and has a web site with that information.
My own web site includes all of Andreas' descendants, but does
not attempt to include the massive information included in the
sites mentioned above. Leonard Killian inadvertently
confused the subsequent generations by marrying a girl whose
name was Mary Margaret Killen. For decades it was assumed
that Killen was just another bad spelling of her married name.
Not the case, her maiden name was Killen. His life is also
very interesting because his tombstone is in the German language
and gives the dates of his birth and death as well as his age in
years, months and days. The dates and age are not
consistent. The material below sheds some light on this
curious anomaly. Leonard tombstone is in Old St. Paul's
Church Cemetery which is located about one mile northwest of
Newton, NC. The tombstone is in the German language.
This might suggest that German was spoken in his home, or that
Germany was still thought of as the "home" country. Since
Leonard was nine years old when he arrived in America this may
seem a little surprising. However, in both PA and NC where
he lived there were many Germans. A brief history of St.
Paul's Church begins: "A great emigration of
German colonists mostly from PA began settling in the
Piedmont area of NC during the first half of the eighteenth
century. These people were of the Lutheran and Reformed
faiths. As a result of living and working together,
members of the two denominations agreed to build common houses
of worship. ...Old St. Paul's Church in Catawba County
just northwest of Newton was organized about 1759,....St.
Paul's was the first church established in the State west of the
...The Church was originally known as The Dutch Meeting
House', but became known as The South Fork Church' about
the beginning of the nineteenth century. It came to
be called by its present name, Old St. Paul's'
sometime afterwards. The cemetery has reached extensive
proportions. Many graves date back to the 1700's.
Most tombstones are still legible, but others obviously older
were either never inscribed or since eroded by time and the
elements. Among the markers chiseled in German is included
one dedicated to the memory of Abraham Mauser who died in 1702".
Leonard's tombstone is #341 in the cemetery and according to the
book reads as follows on a line for line basis:
UND 6 TAG.
With the help of friends this has been translated to:
In God Leon-
Born on the 15
th of May 1723
Died the 6th
of June 1795 his
age 73 year
and 6 day.
A native German who examined this said the use of the periods was old
and unusual but that there was no doubt it still meant the birth
date as the 15th. It has also been suggested that it would
have been more proper to add an "E" at the end of the last word of
the last line and at the end of the last word of the third from the
last line, to make the words plural. Also the "U" in the
second word of the first line might more properly have been "š".
The reason for the hyphen in "Killian" was not understood. I
wonder if the hyphen in the Killian could be some sort of way of
saying that the name was originally with a single "L", The
"GE" after Killian is part of the word on the next line, i.e. words
end with a period.
With the dates given one could calculate Leonard as into his 73rd year
by only 23 days (counting both the 15th and 6th). Perhaps it
was custom to count all of the month of birth as one month and then
the six days of June. During Leonard's life there was a
calendar reform in 1752 which caused the skipping of eleven days.
At this time it would be speculation as to the birth date being
given by the old calendar or the new. Probably the old
calendar would be my guess. But I have understood that some
historical dates have been converted to their equivalent on the new
calendar so that by the old calendar George Washington was born 11
Feb 1732, but this is converted to 22 Feb 1732 for the new calendar.
Part of the world had been using the new calendar (our present
calendar, the Gregorian calendar) for many years when England
adopted it. In any event no matter how I try to adjust for the
calendar change I can not get Leonard 1 month and 6 days into his
73rd year by any means other than that already suggested. If
the suggestion is not correct it means that there is a clear error
on the tombstone and we can only speculate concerning where the
error lies without other data. Tombstone are NOT generally
accepted as accurate and reliable data sources. Also the
tombstone may have been so old when the text was copied that there
was an error in reading one or more of the numbers. I have
seen the tombstone and believe an experienced person should have
been able to read it accurately.
In March 1992 a Jerry Waldrop called me about another matter. He
collects data about tombstones and has published a few books about
tombstones in cemeteries in and around Catawba Co., NC. He
particularly works on family cemeteries. I asked him about the
dates on Leonard's tombstone. He said that the stone mason
often added the age in years, months and days and that he often did
it from poorly constructed tables. He said the dates of birth
and death are more likely right than the age in years months and
days, and that tombstone data is not usually accepted as authentic.
I have also thought that tombstones may include age in years, months
and days if the person's life spanned the calendar change.
By: George W. Killian
For more information on Leonard Killian and descendents:
See Bill Hinds website at
George Killian's website at