Quaker Roots

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Abraham and Dirck op den Graeff

In this posting I will focus on the lives and works of two of the petitions signers: the op den Graeff brothers, Abraham and Derick (or Dirck).

The grandfather of Abraham and Dirck was Herman op den Graeff, a member of the Mennonite Church in Krefeld as of 1632, and their father was Isaac, who died in 1679 (Pennypacker, 205). In Krefeld, the op den Graeff brothers worked as Linen Weavers, a profession they would carry on in Germantown. In 1679, Dirck and Herman were exiled from Krefeld because of their Quaker beliefs. They were allowed to return by 1681, when Dirck marries Nolecken Vitjen. The op den Graeffs purchased 2 thousand acres of land from Jacob Telner in 1683, and sailed to Pennsylvania with their mother (Greitjen), sister Margaret, third brother Herman, and their wives Nolecken, Liesbet and Trijntje.

In Germantown:
1684: Herman op den Graef writes letter home, describing cordial relations with the Indians and the continuation of their linen weaving.
1686: Abraham wins the first prize for the "the finest piece of linen cloath" woven in Pennsylvania, given by William Penn. (prize: 1500 Lire)
1688: Petition against slavery signed. On Authorship, Pennypacker writes, "It is probably, from the learning and abilitiy of Pastorius, that he was the author of this protest, though there is no positive ecidence of the fact; but it is reasonably certain that Dirck op den Graeff bore it to the quarterly meeting at Richard Worrall's, and his is the only name mentioned in connection with its presentation to the yearly meeting, to which it was referred as a topic of too much importance to be considered elsewhere" (Historical and Biographical Sketches, 210).
1689: William Penn incorporates Germantown as a borough, and the op den Graeff brothers (Abraham, Dirck and Herman) are 3 of the 11 associates. Dirck (the oldest) serves as burghess. Abraham serves in the colonial assembly (also in 1690 and 1692)
1692: Keithian controversy among the Quakers. Dirck sides with conservative Friends and signs the certificate of disownment with cast George Keith out of the Burlington Friends meeting (Keith called him an "impudent rascal"). Herman and Abraham side with Keith. Herman signed petition with 68 others defending him. Abraham joined with Keith and issued an appeal against Quaker meeting and government.
1693-4: Dirck serves as town president and bailiff
1696: The fences of Abraham, Herman, and others are condemned by fence-overseers as insufficient.
1697: Dirck dies with no heirs (he had one daughter, Margaret, who married Peter Shoemaker). His estate passes to his two brothers.
1701: Herman dies with no heirs, having moves to Kent country (now Delaware). His estate passes to Abraham. Abraham's son "borrows" a horse and without permission and is fined a half-crown; Abraham paid all legal costs.
1703: He argued about the 1701 fine, and "did mightily abuse the Bailiff in open court." He is fined 2 pounds 10 s. Also, Krefelder and Germantowner Viet (David) Scherkes declares that "no honest man would be in Abraham's company." Abraham sued him for slander, but he was acquitted.
1704: Abraham and his wife Trijntje sell their land in Germantown and move to Perkiomen. He may have joined the Mennonite Church. He is buried in the Mennonite burying ground at Skippackville.
1731: Abraham dies. Children: Isaac, Jacob, Margaret, Anne

References: Pennypacker, "Historical and Biographical Sketches;" Friends of Germantown, Spring 1983, p 5-6; Jordan, "Colonial Families of Philadelphia"


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