Quaker Roots

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Germantown: 1683-1688

Who was living in Germantown from its founding in 1683 to the publication of the petition against slavery in 1688? Who was German, who was Mennonite, who was English, who was Quaker? Where did people worship? What did people argue about? What were the fractious issues of the time? I hope the answers to these questions will give contextual background to the 1688 petition against slavery. My last posting questioned the assumption that this petition was written by "convinced Quakers." My sources, particularly Eschelman's history of the German-Swiss in Pennsylvania and Learned's biography of Pastorius, suggested that the authors of the anti-slavery petition were, on the contrary, German Mennonites who had a less than harmonious relationship with the Quakers. This week I've continued to read Learned, and also found some Mennonite articles printed in the Mennonite Quarterly Review. This posting will be mostly a compilation of facts and raw data.

1681: Penn publishes his "Account," inviting Quaker and Mennonite communities in Holland and the Rhine to his land in the New World, Pennsylvania. (5,000 acres for 100 pounds)

Krefelders purchase land in Pennsylvania
March 10-12, 1683: Jan Strepers (Reformed from Kaldenkirchen), Dirck Sipman (Krefeld Mennonite from Krefeld) and Jacob Telner* (ex-Mennonite Quaker Preacher from Krefeld) each purchase 5,000 acres for a total of 15,000. This purchase established "an economic framework for the famous contingent of mostly Quaker emigrants from Krefeld to Pennsylvania" (Ruth, 313).
Also: Govert Ramke (Mennonite, never emigrated) purchased 1000 acres; Lenart Arets, 1000 acres; Jacob Isaac van Bebber (Mennonite, emigrated in 1684), 1000 acres); op den Graff brothers bought 2000 of Telner's 5000 in June 1683.
*Jacob Telner had visited Pennsylvania from 1678-1681 and was influential in initiating the Krefelders' purchase of lands. He was also a passionate and controversial Quaker preacher, who at times criticized George Fox.

Frankfurt Company/German Society purchase land in Pennsylvania:
April 2, 1683: Francis Daniel Pastorius given the power of attorney to act as the agent for the Frankfurt Company. He becomes the "de facto agent to the Pennsylvania government for both Frankfurt and Krefeld groupings" (Ruth, 316)
May/June, 1683: Pastorius buys 15,000 acres for the Frankfurt company (purchase made through Benjamin Furly)

Arrival in Pennsylvania:
August 20, 1683: Pastorius arrives in Philadelphia with 9 others: Jacob Shumacher, Georg Wertmüller, Isaac, Marieke, Abraham and Jacob Dilbeck, Thomas Gasper, Conrad Backer and Frances Simon (English maid).** Pastorius builds a cave-cabin in Philadelphia, where he lives for the next year or so.

October 6, 1683: Krefelders arrive in Pennsylvania. They choose a location for Germantown and begin to build a settlement.

October 12, 1683: William Penn issues a warrant for the Krefelders and German Company for 6,000 acres on the East Side of the Schuylkill River. This land is divided equally among the Krefelders and German Company. (12,000 set aside for "new Franconia; probably intended for members of the Frankfurt Company--High Germans (as opposed to the more Low-German Krefelders--who never arrived. The rest of the 'purchased' acreage was not warranted.)

The families in Germantown (by Lot), Winter 1683 (Ruth, J. "A Christian Settlement 'In Antiquam Silvam.' 1983: Mennonite Quarterly Review, Vol. VII 4, 307-338):

(East side of the Street)
1. Peter Keurlis (Reformed): Jan Strepers' brother in law, would eventually keep a tavern in the village
2. Thones Kunders (Baptized Mennonite, now Quaker): soon-to-be host of the Quaker Meeting at Germantown. Also brother-in-law of Jan Strepers
3. Jan and Mercken Lensen (Mennonite)
4. Lenart Arets: brother in law of Jan Strepers
5. Reiner Theissen: brother in law of Jan Strepers
6. Jan Lukens
7. Abrahan Tunes

(West side)
1. Jan Strepers (absent)
2. Dirck op den Graff (petition signer)
3. Herman op den Graff
4. Abraham op den Graff (petition signer)
5. Jan Siemens: brother in law for Lukens and Tunes (would die after less than two years)
6. Paul Wulff

7. Johannes Bleickers

Overall, a total of about 44 people
Note: Pastorius resided at his cave-cabin in Philadelphia from 1683-1684/5 before moving to Germantown.

Later arrivals:
At least 10 more Mennonite families arrived from 1683-73, including
Hendrick Sellen (from Krefeld)
Willem Ruttinghuysen (from Holland; moved from New York)
Dirck Keyser (from Holland; moved from New York)

From a letter written in 1690 about Germantown, cited in H. Bender's "Germantown Mennonite Church," 1933: "I came to a German village near Philadelphia, where among others, I heard Jacob Telner, a German Quaker, preaching. The village consists of 44 families, 28 of whom are Quakers, the other 16 of the Reformed Church, among whom I spoke to those who had been received as member of the Lutherans, Mennonites and Baptists, who are very much opposed to Quakerism, and therefore lovingly meet every Sunday when a Menist, Dirck Keyser from Amsterdam, reads a sermon from a book by Jobst Harmensen" (230).

Worship in Germantown: Until a church was built in 1686, worship meetings took place in the house of Thones Kunders.

Relations among settlers: Ruth reports that "early Pennsylvania, with its new mix of eager Quaker entrepreneurs, diffident Swedish farmers and diligent German weavers, proved quarrelsome and disorderly" (321).

John Ruth on the anti-slavery petition: "One of the irritations felt in Germantown produced a now-famous protest against slavery, signed by Gerrit Hendricks (a Kriegsheimer who was making plans to build a mill), Pastorius and two of the Krefeld op den Graff brothers. It was meant not so much for the general public as for the Quakers themselves, to be considered in the local meeting for discipline. Its statement that many emigrants had been nervous lest ships they had sighted on their trans-oceanic voyage turn out to be slave-hunting "Turks" was reminiscent of an incident in Pastorius' own crossing" (321).
--This is key information, and I'd like to find the sources that Ruth used for this passage. He does not mention the incident notably again. It reconfirms the Eschelman and Learned sources that claim a great deal of argumentation between Quakers and non-Quakers in Germantown and Philadelphia. Still, Ruth does not answer some of my questions. At one point, he refers to the op den Graffs and Hendricks as "ex-Mennonite Quakers," but here he implies that the do not belong to the Quaker category--or that there was a faction of Quakers with whom they dissagreed, perhaps. Basically, my questions of the religious associations of the petition writers will have to be further examined in more texts.

Random Notes:
**Ruth writes the following passage about Pastorius, which is worth discussing: "Since Pastorius and two of the Krefelders would later raise a protest against the holding of slaves in Pennsylvania, it is of interest to note here that Claypoole, merchant and fur-trader, close acquaintance of fellow-Quakers Penn and George Fox, was trying hard just at this moment to buy good Negro servants to clear the woods on property he himself had purchased in Pennsylvania. He desired slaves who would not be difficult and was willing to accept a man and a woman, since he had recently heard it said that a Negro man without a woman might become "surly," thus making prolems for the family who owned them. As for Pastorius himself , we read with some amazement that his contract with the Frankfurt Company included the stipulation that he was to oversee the ownership of any slaves who might be part of the Frankfurt property. This casts an interesting light on his famous "protest" of 1688, five years later, shared by three ex-Mennonite Quakers from Krefeld and Kriegsheim" (316).

My reaction to this passage: Interesting material, but I don't think it discredits Pastorius in the way Ruth may like. Regarding Ruth: he wrote his paper in 1983 and presented his work at the Krefeld Mennonite Church in Krefeld, Germany in honor of the 300th year anniversary of the Krefeld-Germantown migration. His paper was also published in the American Mennonite Quarterly Review, and often critiques the scholarship of Marion Learned, who wrote in 1908 for the 225th anniversary of the founding of Germantown (Ruth also admits indebtedness to Learned's research, however). Ruth writes, "Learned...had a cultural axe to grind and a thesis: that Pastorius was 'the founder of Germantown.' Overall, Ruth seems rather eager to downplay Pastorius's role and credibility. (another ex: "It was really the industriousness of the 'Krefelders" that carved Germantown out of the PA forest and made it the only such compact village to appear in the Colony. Why then is Francis Daniel Pastorius so often called the founder of Germantown--this agent whose influence over the decisions of his own "Frankfurt Company" was so small that he could never get them to send him any settlers?..." (319)).


  • Writing from Candor, NY

    My landlady, Gwen Clark, is researching the influence of Quakers and the Underground Railroad. Her house at:

    The Heritage Center
    11 Old Ithaca Road
    Candor, NY 13743

    was a station on the UGRR, owned by the Booth family. She's almost certain that H. Tubmann sat in the kitchen!!!

    Please contact her via snail mail asap.

    (that goes for anyone interested in Quakers and the UGRR/abolitionist movement)

    By Anonymous Tom Nicholson, at 1:17 PM  

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