Philip Slicker: Timeline


Birth Year: The birth year was estimated by subtracting the age (45) given for Philip in the 1860 U.S. census from the year of the census. As age wasn’t always accurately reported to the census taker and/or the census taker may have made an error when recording the age, we cannot be hundred percent certain that Philip was born in 1815.[1]

Birthplace: Philip’s place of birth was recorded in the 1860 U.S. census, the death record of Philip’s son, John, and passed down the family through oral tradition.1, [2], [3]

Marriage: Although no marriage record has been found, it is most likely that Philip and Magdlena were married: they were living together as adults,1 it was customary for adult men and women to marry, and they were listed as father and mother of John Slicker in John’s death record.2

The information in the death record indicates a relationship of, at least, a temporary nature between Philip and Magdlena; it does not show evidence of a marriage. Thus, John’s death record, in and of itself, is not proof that Philip and Magdlena were married. However, when the relationships provided in the death record are linked to the information provided in the 1860 U.S. census and marriage customs of the time, it makes a stronger case for the existence of a marriage.

The date of the marriage was most likely after the birth of Mary Stinogle (1851) and before the birth of John Slicker (1857).  The question remains: Did Philip and Magdalena meet and marry in Germany or here in the United States?

Date and Place of Death: Since Philip appeared with Magdlena in the 1860 census, but not in the 1870 U.S. census; and divorce was highly uncommon, it is most likely Philip died sometime during this ten-year period. Since the family was living in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, it is most likely Philip was buried in this county.[4]

[1] 1860 U.S. Census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Baldwin Township, p. 51 (stamped), dwelling 635, family 608, Philip Slicker; digital image, ( accessed 27 December 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1,438.

[2] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 77633, John Slicker (1929); Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[3] Baker, Ruth, interview, between 1991-1994.

[4] 1870 U.S. Census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Forward Township, p. 105 (stamped), dwelling 218, family 213, Conrad Steingle, digital image, ( accessed 27 December 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1,761.

© 2016, Robin Slicker. All Rights Reserved.



The Elusive Life Story of Philip Slicker

Note on name spelling: The names in this post are written exactly as they appeared in the documents from which they were taken. In the 1870 Federal Census, Magdlena’s name was written as Martha.

The last time I checked the dead weren’t talking. Thus, if we want to learn the life story of our ancestors, we must rely on historical documents to provide the details that will tell us their stories. The more historical documents we find and the more the factual information varies within those documents, the greater potential we have to weave an elaborate, more reliable life story about our ancestors. Even when there are only a few documents, we can still piece together a short narrative about those who came before us. And so it goes with Philip Slicker.

Like treasure hunters diving to the bottom of the ocean to search for buried riches among a more than one hundred-year old ship wreckage, my mother and I have spent countless hours in various repositories searching for that treasure trove of historical documents that would enable us to piece together – gem by gem[1] – the life story of Philip Slicker.

In our exploratory search, we were able to discover three documents containing several genealogical gems: the 1860 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, the 1870 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, and Philip’s son’s death certificate.

From the 1860 census we can begin to piece together a life story for Philip. According to this collection of historical records, Philip was 45 years old and working as a coalminer. Given Philip’s age and the census year, we can estimate that Philip was born about 1815. The census also shows there was an adult female, Magdlena, age 46, living in the same household and bearing the same surname as Philip. Magdlena was most likely his wife. Both Philip and Magdlena were born in Germany.

In addition to Philip and Magdlena, there were four children bearing the Slicker surname listed as a part of the household in 1860: Conrad, age 15, working as a miner; Eve, age 13 or 14; Mary, age 10; and Johny, age 4. The three oldest were born in Germany while Johny was born in Pennsylvania. The family was living in Baldwin Township near Library,[2] Allegheny County, Pennsylvania the day the census was taken: August 17, 1860.[3]

The second useful document was John Slicker’s death certificate. The informant for the certificate, A.G. Seighman – most likely Albert Grant Seighman, John’s son-in-law – reported Philip Slicker as John’s father and Magdalene Slicker as John’s mother. A.G. Seighman also reported Germany as the birthplace of both parents[4], [5].

I believe we would not have found Philip’s family in the 1870 Federal Census for Pennsylvania, the life stories of Conrad, Eva and Mary Steinogle or the burial site of Magdlena, had it not been for Ruth Baker who willingly shared a bit of oral history that has passed from generation to generation.

In the first half of the 1990s, my mother and I had a sit down interview with Ruth. Ruth, the daughter of Matilda Belle Slicker and Albert Grant Seighman, told us Philip and Magdlena had been born in Germany and had lived in and was buried in Webster[6], Pennsylvania. Ruth also told us that Conrad, Eva and Mary were Philip’s step-children and their surname was Steinogle. This little bit of information was enough for us to locate most of Philip’s family members in the 1870 census.

According to this census year, the family household consisted of Conrad Steingle, age 23, born in Germany and working as a miner; Martha Steingle, age 49, born in Germany; and John Steingle, age 13, born in Pennsylvania. They were living in Forward Township, Allegheny County[7]. Eva, Philip’s step-daughter, was married to John Vogle. Eva and John were living in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County[8]. Mary, Philip’s youngest step-daughter, couldn’t be found in this census year. Since Philip did not appear in the 1870 Federal Census, it is most likely he passed away. But when and where?

Based on the information at hand, we can estimate that Philip most likely passed away in the decade between 1860 and 1870. He would have been between the ages of 45 and 55. The answer to where did Philip died is not so easy. It is highly probable he died somewhere in Allegheny County perhaps Baldwin Township…maybe Forward Township.

Three historical documents and a bit of oral history have made it possible to develop a short narrative about Philip Slicker. This life story, although appearing elusive in nature, is not as comprehensive as I believe it could be. Other documents containing their own genealogical gems surely exist. Documents containing factual information that would make Philip’s life story more elaborate… more complete.

Those possible documents include ship passenger lists, naturalizations records, bible records, and church records. There may be a standing grave marker carrying Philip’s name and date of death. The gems to be found within these documents and on his grave marker may include Philip’s arrival date to the United States, the port he arrived to, when he was born, when he was married, when he died and the name of his parents. In fact, with the right documents in hand it would be possible to trace Philip’s life story to the motherland – Germany.

[1] In the field of genealogy, gem is used as a synonym of fact or good-find.

[2] Baldwin Township covered a larger geographical area in 1860 than it   does presently. Library is presently located in South Park Township, Allegheny County.

[3] “1860 United States Federal Census,”, ( : accessed 7, October 2016), entry for Philip Slicker (age 45), Baldwin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[4] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate no. 77633, John Slicker (1929); Division of Vital Records, New Castle.

[5] Although the informant of John’s death certificate, A.G. Seighman, most likely presented an accurate account of the names of John’s parents and their birthplace, the information must be treated as suspect. Mr. Seighman, given his date of birth could not have known Philip and Magdlena. Thus he was relying on information passed down through generations which is less reliable than an eyewitness account.

[6] Webster is in Westmoreland County.

[7] “1870 United States Federal Census,”, ( : accessed 7, October 2016), entry for Conrad Steingle (age 23), Forward Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

[8] “1870 United States Federal Census,”, ( : accessed 7, October 2016), entryfor Eva Vogle (age 21), Westmoreland, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

© Robin Slicker, 2016. All Rights Reserve.

He Came From Germany

The Not So Complete Life Story of Philip Slicker

The following story is being related in narrated form to make it more interesting to the reader who otherwise may fall asleep upon reading lists of facts. The reader should take note of the numerous words that convey possibility and uncertainty. I don’t know the mode of transportation Philip used to move from seaport to Western Pennsylvania; but naming the possible modes of transportation –  automobiles and planes weren’t options – helps the reader to place Philip in the context of his time. Likewise, the description for the working life of nineteenth century coalminers has the purpose of placing Philip in the appropriate historical context as well as making the narrative more interesting to the reader.  For those who want to read all the known facts of Philip’s life and view the citations of documents supporting those facts, the next post will make that possible.  

Born in Germany about 1815, Philip Slicker crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the United States in a ship powered by wind or steam. He most likely landed at one of the eastern seaports – Boston, New York, or Philadelphia. From the seaport, Philip made his journey in-land.

Depending on the year and from which port he started his land trip, Philip may have traveled in a wagon, stagecoach, or train. He may have even made the trip via the Pennsylvania Canal, a complex system of canals, dams, locks, towpaths, aqueducts and viaducts.

Between the years of 1851 and 1856, Philip met Magdlena. To this union, she brought three children from a previous marriage – Conrad born in 1847, Eva born in 1849 and Mary born in 1851. All three were born in Germany. Their father may have been Joseph John Steinogle.

The three Steinogle children arrived to the United States in 1854. They most likely traveled with their mother, Magdlena. It is unknown whether Philip met Magdlena in Germany or in the United States.

March 17th, 1857, Philip’s and Magdlena’s son, John, was born in Allegheny County bringing the family total to six members.

In 1860, Philip Slicker and his step-son, Conrad Steinogle, age 15, were earning a living as coalminers in Allegheny County. The hours were long and the pay, based on production, was low. Six days a week, they were up and started before daylight. They worked until physically exhausted which was usually sometime after sunset. The work took place in small confined areas; much of the work had to be done lying on their side.

Working in small, poorly ventilated areas, Philip and Conrad were exposed to the coal dust stirred up while they worked. That constant exposure placed them at risk for developing pneumoconiosis, more commonly known as black lung disease. Other risks they faced included death and injury from collapsing walls and ceilings, haulage accidents, flooding and explosions.

They had only simple tools – a pick, a shovel, a hammer, a sledge, wedges, a hand machine for drilling, a drill, a crowbar, explosives, an oil can and lamp – with which to work. With their meager pay, they were required to buy their own tools and supplies.

Philip’s home, most likely leased from the owner of the coalmine, was in Baldwin Township near Library. This was in the days before the company town – in some areas known as patch towns.

It appears Philip departed from life between 1860 and 1870. In 1870, Philip’s wife, Magdlena, his step-son, Conrad, and his son, John were living in Forward Township near Elizabeth. Conrad was still entering the mines to support the family. Philip’s step-daughter, Eva, was married to John Vogle. They were living in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County. The whereabouts of his step-daughter, Mary, in 1870, is unknown.

To learn more about Philip Slicker and his family, be sure to read the next post.

© 2016, Robin Slicker. All Rights Reserved.