Ancestors of Isaac T. Lafaver 1801
by Jeffrey La Favre
The ancestors of Isaac T. Lafaver are listed below:
1. Abraham Lefever about 1659-1733
2. Johannes (John) Lefever about 1702-1779
3. Abraham Lefever (I) about 1728-after 21 JUN 1796
4. Abraham Lefever (II) about 1750-1807/8
5. Abraham Lefever (III) 1772-1838 (Isaac T. Lafaver's father)
LeFevres of France
Abraham Lefever of 1659 arrived in Pennsylvania in 1709 or 1710 and was the founder of my paternal line in America. He was with a group of "first arrivals" in London, German Palatines, in May of 1709. His ancestry in France has not been established to my knowledge. He may have been related in some way to Isaac LeFevre of 1669, the man who was the ancestor of "Pennsylvania LeFevres," documented by George Newton LeFevre.62 Part of this book is available online.
George N. LeFevre worked his ancestry back to Mengen LeFevre, of 1510, who, he believed, was the ancestor of the Pennsylvania LeFevres, the New York LeFevres, the New Jersey LeFevres and the "Virginia LeFevres."
1-001 Mengen LeFevre, born 1510 in Lorraine, France. He was ennobled by Royal Duke Antoine, the "Good Duke of Lorraine," and granted a Coat-of-Arms, which was registered in 1543.
2-001 John LeFevre, b 1540 (?) in Lorraine, France.
3-001 Philip (?) LeFevre, b 1574 (?) in Valley of the Yonne, France.
4-001 Andrew (?) LeFevre, b 1604 (?) near Chateau-Chinon, France.
5-001 Abraham LeFevre, 1632. Son of Andrew, 1604
Below is a list of other LeFevres in Europe provided by G. N. LeFevre
Claude, d 1633. A French portrait painter and engraver.
Francois Joseph. Born in Alsace, France, Oct. 25, 1755, one of the Catholic branch of LeFevres. At eighteen he enlisted in the army as a private; at thirty-seven he was a Captain; at thirty-eight he rose to Adjutant General, then to Brigadier General, and then to General. He was one of Napoleon's greatest leaders, and in 1804, at the age of forty-nine, he was made a Marshal of the Empire.
Guy, b 1541. An able French Orientalist. He translated the Syriac Bible.
Jacques, b 1654 (or earlier). A French army officer who being a Huguenot fled from persecution in France and settled in Delaware.
John, b 1282. An eminent French jurist born at Angouleme.
John, b 1394. A learned French chronicler born at Abbeville.
John, b 1478. Bishop of Vienna. He favored and defended Luther.
John, b 1732. A French Philologist and master of many ancient and modern languages.
John. A French astronomer and member of the Academy of Science.
Louis Urbain, b 1653. A French Statesman.
Nicholas, b 1544. An eminent French scholar highly commended as a critic.
Nicholas, b 1620. An able French chemist. He wrote the work, "Theoretical and Practical Chemistry."
Robert, b 1756. A French portrait painter. He acquired a high reputation, and in 1815 received the title, "First Painter to the King."
Roland, b 1605. A French portrait painter, who also did fine work in England.
George N. LeFevre published a genealogical chart in 1933 of the descendents of Isaac LeFevre, born in 16678. The chart contains Isaac T. LeFevre [Lafaver] of 1801 and considerable detail of his descendents, including my father. Unfortunately, there appear to be errors for the first three generations in the chart, which leave little doubt that Isaac LeFevre of 1667 was not the ancestor of Isaac T. Lafaver of 1801. Nevertheless, G. N. LeFevre's chart includes some interesting information on the origin of the surname as quoted below:
While I have sympathy for G. N. LeFevre's point of view regarding the proper spelling of his surname, I do not have any intention of legally changing my name. Such a change would, in my view, cause more harm than good. My father's name is recorded in many documents as La Favre, just as his father taught him to spell the name, even though G. N. LeFevre spelled my father's name as Howard LeFevre in his chart. Clearly the two Howards are the same man because my father's birthday is indeed the date given in G. N. LeFevre's chart.
At this time I have in my possession two examples of the signatures of ancestors that are helpful in settling the question of the proper surname spelling, at least as they spelled their name when actually signing a document. The images below are derived from photocopies of the original signatures on two deeds: the first signed by Abraham Lefebre [I] (b. abt 1728), when he sold 100 acres of his land in Norriton Twp., Philadelphia Co., PA and the second, signed by his father, Johannes Lefebre, when he gave to his son, Henry, part of his land in Loudoun Co., VA.
Johannes was about 8 years old when he arrived with his father in America. I believe it is safe to assume that Johannes had already received some schooling in the language arts at that time and may have been able to sign his name. In any case, his signature 65 years later surely reveals the way his immediate family in Germany spelled their name: Lefebre, as he taught his own son, Abraham. The second signature block is also instructive in the manner of how the English Anglicized the surname of my ancestors. Note that the scribe of the deed gives us the name as John Lafever, the way he believed this name, signed in "Dutch" [German], should be spelled in English. By examining a larger number of documents, it is evident that a more popular English translation was Lefever. From this evidence then, I would assume that the proper spelling of my surname would be Lefebre or as G.N. LeFevre would suggest, in France it would be Le Fèbre.
My experience with the spelling of the surname of my Le Fèbre ancestors is not the same as G. N. LeFevre's. In fact, the name was spelled many different ways in documents originating over the past 300 years in America. For example, the will of Abraham Lefever, born about 1750, lists his name as Layfeevers. And in a survey of land owned by John Lefever, born about 1702, his name is spelled Lefebber. Certainly, in many cases the name was spelled as a record-taker judged it to be spelled, when he was given the name verbally.
You will find in this genealogical account that I have used various spellings of the surname Lefever. I have tried to use a spelling that matches at least some of the documents for an individual, but I have not completed an exhaustive study of the most appropriate spelling of the surname for particular individuals.
Let us start with the individual I believe to be my ancestor, who founded my Lefever family in America.
LeFevres in Europe and Migration to America
Abraham Lefever's ancestry remains an open question. Chidsey claims he was the son of Isaac Lefevre, who arrived in America in 1683 and married Janneken Boudounck at the Reformed Church of New York.1 That Abraham was baptized July 3, 1687. A better candidate would be Abram le Fevre, age 50, on John Tribbeko and George Ruperti's list of first arrivals, German Palatines who came to London in 1709.58 Abraham belonged to the German Reformed faith in America, which would lead us to look in Germany for his ancestry. But it is possible that Abraham was not born in Germany. To find his heritage, we need to consider his name.
Lefever or le Fevre is clearly a French name and Abraham's ancestry surely traces back to that country. But I am not aware of any research that has documented a connection to France. George Newton LeFevre was successful in tracing his ancestors back to France, but there is no known connection between his ancestors and our Abraham.62 Nevertheless, it is helpful to examine the work of G. N. LeFevre as it may provide clues to Abraham's family. In fact, the two ancestral lines have a connection of sorts in London in the year 1709, when 15,000 people left southwest Germany in search of a better life in America.
The province of Lorraine was incorporated into the French province of Alsace in 921 by the Treaty of Bonn. Lorraine was the home of Mengen LeFevre, born in 1510.62 He was the early ancestor of Isaac LeFevre, of G. N. LeFevre's line, who is believed to have arrived in New York, January 1, 1709, on the ship "Globe." His story has some parallels to our Abraham and is helpful in understanding the life of a Huguenot, a term Roman Catholics in France applied to those of the Protestant faith.
Henry, King of Navarre, ascended to the French throne in 1589. Friendly to the Huguenots, he issued the Edict of Nantes in April of 1598, which put an end to religious wars for a short time. Upon his assassination in 1610, his wife, Maria de Medici, became queen regent because Henry's son, Louis, was a minor. Louis XIII took the throne in 1617, and about that time persecutions of the Protestants in France gradually arose again. In 1643 Louis XIV became King of France. In 1666 the Regulations, 59 articles, invaded all rights of humanity. These were so severe that several articles of the worst were rescinded or modified three years later. The conditions in France were particularly unfavorable for the Huguenots, who began to immigrate in large numbers to foreign lands.
On October 18, 1685, Louis XIV signed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Huguenots were no longer allowed to hold public office. Their marriages were declared illegal and pastors were ordered to leave the country within 15 days. Parents were no longer allowed to instruct their children in the Reformed faith and they were to be baptized and instructed by priests. Huguenots were forbidden to emigrate; their churches and records were destroyed. About 400,000 Huguenots fled the country.
Isaac LeFevre was 16 years old at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and lived with his parents in the valley of the River Yonne, near Chateau-Chinon.62 His parents, three brothers and three sisters, lost their lives in the conflict. Isaac was the only survivor of the family. He left France with his father's bible, baked into a loaf of bread by his mother to conceal the book.
In Strasburg, Isaac was taken in by Daniel Ferree, another Huguenot, who was married to Marie de la Warembur. The Ferrees had left their home in France in hope of escaping the religious turmoil. Together they fled into Germany, where they lived in Landau, Rhenish Palatinate, on the River Quiech, 18 miles northwest of Karlsruhe.63 Here Isaac married the daughter of Daniel and Marie Ferree, Catherine. Later the families moved to a nearby village, Steinweiler, 10 miles west of the Rhine, where Daniel Sr. died. This was the last home for the LeFevres and Ferrees before they made the decision to find a better life in America.
Life, while far from ideal, was undoubtedly better in Steinweiler than in France for these Huguenot families. We know they were not satisfied in Germany because they left for America in 1708. Their reasons for leaving may have been similar to those of our Abraham Lefever, as well as many people living in southwest Germany during the first decade of the 18th century. Philip Otterness provides an excellent account of the human condition in southwest Germany during this time in his book about the 1709 migration to New York.61
The seventeenth century was a particularly difficult time for the people of southwest Germany, devastated first by the Thirty Years War (1619 to 1648), then the invasion by French troops of Louis XIV during the War of the Grand Alliance (1689 to 1697). They suffered again during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714). These wars certainly contributed to unhappiness in the region but were not the sole cause of the mass exodus in 1709.
In order to appreciate the living conditions of these Germans, it is necessary to consider the repressive societal structures of the times. Germany was a myriad of city-states controlled by local princes, who in turn were under the jurisdiction of regional electors. Those in power invariably belonged to one of three religions: Catholic, Lutheran or Reformed. The sanctioned religion of local peoples was controlled by the princes and electors and therefore could change when new leadership took power. Those who belonged to one of the three acceptable faiths were relatively free to practice their religion, but perhaps only in private. Public worship could be limited to the religion of a current ruler. Sects, such as the Mennonites, experienced more difficulties. Thus, restrictions on religious practices may have been a contributing factor to unhappiness, but not to the extent of the Huguenots in France.
Life for the average German in the southwest was in reality one of poverty or at least such that one could dream of a better life elsewhere. The lower classes were heavily taxed by princes who needed to pay for the costs of war and their increasingly elaborate castles. Poor Germans who wished to get ahead in life might need to look elsewhere for a home and there were foreign agents sent to southwest Germany to publicize such opportunities.
Several books were circulated in southwest Germany extolling the virtues of life in Pennsylvania. In the 1680's William Penn wrote or commissioned books promoting his colony in America. In 1700, Daniel Pastorius, who helped found Germantown, Pennsylvania, wrote another book praising Pennsylvania. Daniel Falckner published another book in 1702. While most Germans in the region were illiterate at the time, there were sufficient numbers who could read and share the contents of these books. And as information was spread by word of mouth, it is easy to suppose that the virtues of Pennsylvania might well be exaggerated to a greater extent. Clearly the Germans were aware of a land in the New World, where others claimed they would find a better life.
The book that influenced the mass exodus of 1709 to the greatest extent was apparently the so-called "Golden Book." The book had a picture of Queen Ann and the title page was embossed in gold. There were glowing reports of Carolina in the British Colonies, authored by the Reverend Joshua Kocherthal. The first edition of the book appeared in 1706, but it was subsequent editions published in Frankfurt, near the center of the emigration, that appear to have triggered the avalanche of Germans headed toward America. These later editions included an account of the experience of a small group of Germans who traveled down the Rhine River in 1708 under the leadership of Rev. Kocherthal and who arrived in New York on January 1, 1709. Key to our story, the families of Daniel Ferree Jr. and Isaac LeFevre were in the small group of Germans with Rev. Kocherthal. Also of interest is the fact that Daniel's mother was not with him when he arrived in New York. She was on the same list of first arrivals for 1709 in London with our Abraham LeFever! According to the old French custom, Daniel's mother, as a widow, had reverted to using her maiden name. Thus, we find on the London list of first arrivals, dated May 6, 1709, under the name subcategory of Unmarried Persons, Widows, etc., Warambour, Mary, age 56, sons of age 24, 23, 19, 17 and a daughter age 22, of the Reformed faith.58 One could wonder if Madame Ferree might have known our Abraham, but let us not get sidetracked in our story.
While in London in 1708, the Rev. Kocherthal managed to gain support from Queen Ann for his group of fifty Germans. She provided free passage to New York, free land, and sustenance until the Germans were established in the New World. The 3rd and 4th editions of the Golden Book published in 1709 included a letter dated July 1708, relating the experience of Kocherthal's Germans, describing the charity received along the Rhine, Rotterdam government support and Queen Ann's generosity. The news in this letter probably arrived in southwest Germany late in 1708 and appears to be a key factor in influencing the decision of many Germans to seek a better life in America. They were under the impression that they would be treated the same as those who went before them a year earlier.
Another contributing factor to the mass exodus in 1709 was the severe winter of 1708/9 in southwestern Germany and an even wider area of Europe. The places that Germans left were centered along the Rhine River, with agricultural areas containing orchards and vineyards. The trees and vines were severely damaged, resulting in devastating losses to the German farmers. Elderly Germans reported that they could not remember another winter in their lifetime that approached the severity of this winter. Cattle and humans froze to death. Even the birds in the forest froze. The Rhine froze over for several weeks. The grain mills halted operations due to the lack of flowing water. People resorted to eating cattle fodder and there was widespread hunger.
As the ice broke up on the Rhine River in late February, Germans wasted no time in attempting to escape their misery by boating down the river to Rotterdam. The migration began in the region near the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar Rivers.61 For many, the hope of a better life in America would be dashed and for those who did make it to the New World, the majority did not find a land of milk and honey, at least not at first. In March of 1709 the Germans began to accumulate on the outskirts of Rotterdam, many living in squalid conditions. They received permission from the English government to enter the country, but most did not have the resources to make the passage. Support from the Rotterdam and British governments and charitable contributions from private parties provided the means for survival and transport across the channel to London.
The Germans had certainly not escaped a life of misery upon reaching Rotterdam. There were eight parties, each containing three to eleven ships, which departed from Rotterdam for London during the period April to October 1709.64 The departure lists of the second to the sixth parties have survived. Abram le Fevre was presumably in the first party, based on the fact that he appears on the list of first arrivals. The first party is believed to have numbered about 925 upon departure. There are 852 individuals on the arrivals list, indicating a loss (death) of 73 people or 7.9 percent of the passengers. This loss is all the more appalling upon the realization that the trip across the English Channel was about five days in length (departing about April 30, 1709 from Rotterdam and arriving in London about May 5). It would seem incomprehensible that healthy individuals would lose their lives in a five-day trip, even under the poor conditions they must have experienced. One could only assume that many were in poor health prior to departing from Rotterdam. Lest we doubt this high figure for deaths, consider that for parties two through four, where departing and arrival lists exist, the death rates were 7%, 6.7% and 2.7%.
Faced with an influx of 15,000 Germans in 1709, the English government struggled to provide support for these people and to decide their fate. More than 3,000 were sent to Ireland but by November of 1711 only 1,200 remained, the others returning to England. A large number were sent back to Rotterdam, particularly the Catholics. A group of about 650 were sent to North Carolina. Some 3,000 were sent to New York and it is within this group that we should focus.
Robert Hunter was appointed governor of New York on September 9, 1709. He played a key role in the fate of the Germans who went to New York. Hunter's plan was to put the German immigrants to work making naval stores (tar and pitch) for the British. Ultimately, a large fraction of the Germans shipped to New York were sent to camps, collections of rude villages along the east and west banks of the Hudson River, about 100 miles upstream from New York City. The whole endeavor was a fiasco from start to finish, and while the Germans did considerable work in the initial phases, only a few barrels of product were realized before the project was abandoned. Hunter provided the Germans living in these camps with sustenance and the paperwork involved included lists of the Germans, which have survived. These are valuable documents for those researching the German immigrants of 1709. But our Abraham was not among the group that went to make naval stores.
The operations for transporting the Germans to New York began with the loading of ships in late December of 1709, prior to final approval of the plan on January 7, 1710 by the Queen. Bad weather and poor planning delayed the voyage and the Germans awaited passage, crowded in the ships anchored off the English shore until mid April. On June 13, 1710, after a two-month voyage, the Lyon of Leith with 330 Germans on board arrived in New York. During the next two weeks seven of the remaining nine ships arrived. The Medford arrived in July and the Berkeley Castle in August. I believe there are no existing lists of passengers on these ships. Unless our Abraham found other transportation, he must have been aboard one of these ten ships. If he arrived in New York in the summer of 1710, he did not linger there because he purchased land in Philadelphia County, PA in early October of the same year.
We now rewind our story back to May of 1709 in London, where our Abram le Fevre and Madame Ferree, aka Mary Warambour, are temporarily quartered in the parish of St. Catherine's, east of the Tower. There were 188 families and 40 single men in the first arrivals to London. I believe there is a fair chance that Madame Ferree discovered that a man by the name of Abram le Fevre was in the party of Germans that she traveled with from Rotterdam. Surely this would have aroused her interest since her son-in-law was also a LeFevre. Did they meet in Rotterdam? Perhaps they even knew each other in Germany? Is it possible that there is even a close ancestral connection between Isaac LeFevre, who fled France at age 16 and our Abraham? Our search for Abraham's roots should include a study of Daniel and Madame Ferree's family and Isaac LeFevre.
I believe it is a family tradition that Madame Ferree met with William Penn while she was in London and that he introduced her to Queen Ann. William Penn provided Madame Ferree with a large land grant in his colony (the land, 2,000 acres, was actually granted to Daniel Fierre and Isaac Lefever in 1712 for £14065). Upon her arrival in New York, it is believed that she was united with the families of her son Daniel and son-in-law, Isaac LeFevre, in New Paltz. Two years later these families moved to Pennsylvania. If our Abraham was with Madame Ferree when she arrived in America, they perhaps traveled together to New Paltz, the early locus of the New York LeFevres. But if he did, he did not linger there for any length of time.
The key to learning more about our Abraham may be the London list of 1709. Let us examine the list in more detail. The Board of Trade employed John Tribbeko, a Lutheran chaplain at St. James Palace and George Ruperti, pastor of London's German Lutheran Church in Savoy, who investigated the living conditions of the German immigrants in St. Catherine's parish. Tribbeko and Ruperti submitted their first report to the board on May 9, 1709, with the following statistics: 852 immigrants, 390 adults and 462 dependent children. In Lists of Germans From The Palatinate Who Came to England In 1709, there is this statement: "The following lists are copied from the original documents preserved in the British Museum Library, London, England..." Then there is reference to Board of Trade Miscellaneous. Vol. 2 D. 57. "A list of all the poor Germans lately come over from the Palatinate into this kingdom taken in St. Catharine's the sixth May, 1709." In the table, under the name column, with the subheading "These are only Husbandmen" there is le Fevre, Abram, age 50, [and] wife, 7 year old son, 20 year old daughter, and in the Church column "Ref." [German Reformed]. Ten lines below the entry for Abram le Fevre, under the same name subheading, there is Wentzen, Peter, age 25, single, and in the Church column "Ref." Two lines above the entry for Abram le Fevre there is Trumph, John Michael, age 48, "none" in the wife column, 18 year old son, "Ref." in the Church column. 58 In addition, one line below Abram, there is Schrager, Andrew, age 53, wife, daughters age 23 and 20, Baptist; and two men listed as husbandmen and vinedressers, 33 and 34 lines above Abram, Kolb, Henry, age 30, wife, daughters ages 6, 3 and 1/2, Baptist; Clemens, Gerhard (also a linen cloth weaver), age 28, wife, sons ages 5, 1 1/2, Baptists. And finally, a cloth and linen weaver, Ziegler, Michael, age 25, single, Lutheran. More about all these men will follow soon.
In New Bristol Township, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (later Worcester Twp. and Montgomery County), starting in 1710, records document the presence of an Abraham Lefever [or Lefevre , Lefeber, Lefebre, Lefebber, etc.] and his descendants. His neighbor to the southeast was Peter Wentz. The gravestone of Peter's wife is engraved E L W and she is believed to be the daughter, Elizabeth, of Abraham Lefever. I am told, and can confirm by inspection, that the engraving of E L W on the gravestone was done not long ago because the original engraving was no longer legible.
According to Gene Rooks, Peter Wentz married Elizabeth Lefever on June 5, 1709 in London, England:
The seven year old (born about 1702) son of Abraham on the London list would be Johannes Lefever, who married a daughter of another neighbor, Antonious Heilman, who witnessed Abraham's will. The will establishes that Abraham had two daughters (or step-daughters) and one son. But he had another daughter, Mary Elizabeth, who died before the will was drafted. She married Michael Trump in 1710 in Abington Township, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania and died in 1727 in Upper Dublin Township, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. Michael's will was written November 25, 1719 and probated July 20, 1723. The executors were wife Mary Elizabeth, Abraham Lefever and John Cunrade. Mary's will was written September 11, 1725/6 and probated February 1, 1727. The executors were Peter Wence and Lawrence Switcher. In a biography of Samuel Newbold Trump, we learn that he was a descendent of Hans Michael Trump of Upper Dublin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. In Michael's will he has dropped the name Hans. "In it he leaves his property to his wife, Mary Elizabeth, not to be divided until his youngest son, Michael, should become of age, sixteen years hence. He speaks of having given his eldest son Casper a sum of money to buy a plantation, the rest to be divided between the three minor children, Johannas, Catherine, and Michael."60 The three minor children would be Mary Elizabeth's while Casper would be the 18 year old son of Michael on the London list (from a previous marriage). There is just one problem with the information in the biography of Samuel Newbold Trump. It claims that Hans Michael Trump purchased 150 acres in what would become Upper Dublin Twp., Montgomery Co., in 1707, which would not be possible if he was in London in 1709. I presume that further investigation will prove the 1707 date to be in error.
In tracking the migration of ancestors, our only clues may be circumstantial. By studying groups of families, rather than individual families, we can have greater confidence in our theories and hypotheses. In the area where Abraham lived in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 30 men signed a petition in 1713 asking for the construction of a road, which would become the Skippack Pike. The men were Dirk Renberg, Heinrich Frey, Gerhard In den Hoffen, Claus Janson, Gerhard Clemens, Heinrich Pannepacker, Johannes Umstat, Johannes Kolb, Jacob Gaetshlack, Mathias Tyson, Jacob Kolb, William Renberg, Hermanns Kuster, Martin Kolb, Johannes Scholl,Heinrich Kolb, Jacob Op den Graeff, Peter Sellen, Hermans In den Hoffen, John Newberry, Daniel Desmond, Peter Bunn, Thomas Kentworthy, Peter Bellar, Peter Wentz, Abraham Lefevre, Jan Krey, Andrew Schraeger, Lorentz Scheitzer, James Been.
We have already established the family connection between Peter Wentz and our Abraham. Lorentz Schwisser [surname with various spelling variants] was also a resident in New Bristol and was the husband of Catherine SWITSER, named as a "Daughter in Law" in Abraham Lefever's will probated in 1733. I cannot find Lorentz on any of the London lists for 1709 but he may have been in London in 1708. He may be the key to Abraham's home in Germany, as we will see soon.
Men on the London list with no known family ties to our Abraham are also important in connecting Abram of the London list to Abraham of New Bristol. Three men on the London list, described as Baptists, match the names of three men on the petition for a road, the Skippack Pike. In the case of Gerhard Clemens, there can be little doubt that the signer of the petition is the same man on the London list. On the London list he is listed with an additional occupation as a weaver of linen cloth. The man by the same name living in Skippack was known to have supplemented his income by selling linen cloth of his manufacture. The three "Baptist" men mentioned are known to have been Mennonites in Skippack as well as another on the London list, Michael Ziegler, who converted from his religion as a Lutheran.
Taking a look at the London list again, two lines below Abram, there is Oberholtzer, Mark, age 45, wife, sons ages 10, 8, 3 and daughters ages 6 and 1, Baptist. This man died in 1726 in Coventry Township, Chester County, PA. We now have identified six men on the London list who probably lived near Abraham Lefever in Philadelphia County, PA and an additional man who lived in Chester County. Further study of of the names of first arrivals in London in 1709 may turn up additional names of men who found their way to Pennsylvania. I would suggest that the London list is a valuable key to further revelations regarding Abraham Lefever's ancestry or at least his story of immigration.
The identity of the 20 year old daughter of Abraham on the London list appears to be in question. Was she Elizabeth, who married Peter Wentz soon after the list was recorded? Or was she Mary Elizabeth, who married Michael Trump in Pennsylvania? If Abraham's entry on the list is accurate, then why does he only have one daughter, there should be two. Either we are missing a piece of the puzzle or the list erroneously lists one daughter instead of two. Is it possible that Elizabeth is not accounted for on the list because she was in transition between the single daughter of Abraham and the wife of Peter? An inspection of the original document is needed to confirm that Abram le Fevre was listed with only one daughter.
In any case, the children of Abraham and Mary Lefever were:
Lorentz Schwisser, son-in-law of Abraham Lefever
Abraham Lefever may have a connection to the Reverend Joshua Kocherthal and his small group of Germans who migrated to New York in 1708-9. There were 41 people in Kocherthal's original group who arrived in London in the spring of 1708: 10 men (one single), 10 women and 21 children. A Lorenz Schwisser was one of the men. Knittle claims that these Germans came from Landau, Rhenish Palatinate.67 If Knittle is correct and the Lorenz Schwisser in Kocherthal's group was the same man as Lorentz Sweizter of New Bristol, I would suggest that our Abraham Lefever also lived in the vicinity of Landau. I make this suggestion because Lorenz was already married to a woman named Ann Catharine when he arrived in London and presumably married her in or near Landau. We need to investigate the migration of Lorenz from London to the New World, in hopes of establishing that he indeed made his way to New Bristol twp., Philadelphia Co., PA.
Upon arrival in London, Kocherthal petitioned Queen Ann for support in fulfilling his desire of settlement in her American colonies. The petition was sent to the Board of Trade for advice regarding an appropriate location for these Germans to settle and for further support that they might need. On April 22, 1708, Kocherthal met with the board and reported the occupations of the men in his group: one joyner, one smith, the others all versed in gardening, husbandry, planting and tillage, the women versed in and understood the same business. The board recommended immediate aid for subsistence. At the next board meeting, Kocherthal, a Lutheran pastor, reported on the religious followings of his group: 15 Lutherans and 26 Calvinists (Reformed). Ultimately it was decided that Kocherthal's Palatines should settle upon the Hudson River in New York where they might be useful to the Kingdom, particularly in the production of naval stores and as a buffer against the troublesome French and their Indian allies.
On June 28th Kocherthal submitted the roster of his company, which included Lorens Schwisser, husbandman, aged 25; his wife Anna Catharina, aged 26, and their child Johanna, aged 8 months.69 Before departure to New York, Kocherthal told the board that 14 more Germans had unexpectedly arrived and likewise desired to go to New York. Two families of latecomers we should note: Isaac Feber [LeFevre], wife and son; Daniel Fiere [Ferree], wife and 2 children. These are the two families we have already discussed, who left their home in Steinweiler, about five miles south of Landau. Again we can raise the question: Did our Abraham live near and perhaps even have family connections to Isaac LeFevre?
In order for these Germans to become proper citizens of the British Colonies, allowed to own land, it was necessary that they be naturalized. This was accomplished by Letters of Denization dated August 25, 1708 and found in Deed Book X. 241. Included was the name Lorentz Schwisser, Anne Catharine his wife, Johannes their son.67 In another reference to the denization, the child of Lorentz and Anne Catherine is listed as daughter Johanne.75
About the middle of October 1708, the German Palatines departed London for New York, leaving behind Melchior Gülch with his ill wife who died not long thereafter. Their voyage of over 9 weeks was on the ship Globe. On board was the new governor of New York, Lovelace. The Globe landed at Flushing, Long Island and the Palatines spent the winter in New York City.67
Lovelace gave the Germans land on the west side of the Hudson River, about 55 miles north of New York City, at the mouth of Quassaick Creek, where they settled in the spring of 1709. This was the settlement that became Newburgh, New York.
Lots of 100 to 300 acres were distributed to the settlers, 50 acres per person. Lovelace died May 6, 1709 and subsequent governmental red-tape delayed the actual land grant until 1719.68 Knittle provides the list of grantees and the name of Lorentz Schwisser is not one of them.67 However, we know that Lorentz did arrive in New York with Kocherthal's group because he received a distribution of tools, brought by Melchior Gülch, who took passage to New York after his wife died.
In O'Callaghan's Documentary History of the State of New York70 there is a list of tools distributed to eleven men and two widows. Lorenz Switzer had in his possession 1 grinding-stone, 1 square, 1 little gimlet, 2 agors, 1 smoothin-plain, besides several other pieces more. Isaac Feber and Daniel Fiere are also listed with tools. Apparently the tools were divided between the settlers upon Melchior's arrival and he was not happy with his share. He provided this list of tools to the Council of the Province of New York, requesting that an order be made to restore to him, what he believed should be his tools. The list was read before the Council on April 29, 1710.
With the death of Lovelace, the Germans at Quassaick Creek lost their connection to the provincial government of New York. O'Callaghan's Documentary History of the State of New York contains the records of a number of petitions brought before the government of New York subsequent to Lovelace's death, on behalf of the Germans, asking for assistance in maintaining the support promised by the Crown. The Rev. Kocherthal was not happy with the conditions at Quassaick Creek, particularly support for his ministry and family. He returned to London where he addressed the Board of Trade on December 27, 1709. Upon returning to London, Kocherthal discovered that thousands of Germans had arrived in 1709, also with the hope of a better life in America. It was then that he became involved with the much larger group of about 3,000 Germans who came to New York in 1710.67
In Kocherthal's absence, the Lutheran minister, Justis Falckner, took charge of the care of the Germans at Quassaick Creek, as well as other places along the Hudson River. Falckner's baptismal register contains the following record.71
This is surely the baptismal record for John Henry, his English name, son of Lorentz Schwisser, a member of Kocherthal's Germans in London in 1708. Another source clarifies the witness names: "April 17th: Johann Heinrich, child of Laurenz and Catharina SCHWEITZER: sponsors: Henrich Rennau and his wife Johanna."74 Rennau was also a member of Kocherthal's Germans in London in 1708.
Of key interest, it appears that the Schwitser home was located near Juffrow's Hoeck [Juffrow's Hook]. Juffrow's Hook was the location of the southeast corner of the New Paltz Patent, located on the west bank of the Hudson River. Ralph Le Fevre, in his book History of New Paltz, New York and Its Old Families72, provides a detailed discussion about the location of Juffrow's Hook, which was the subject of lengthy legal battles between about 1750 and 1800, with the final decision being that it was the same location as Blue Point (Blue Point is labeled on a modern topographic map of the area - Poughkeepsie, NY 7.5 minute quadrangle). Blue Point is 1.5 miles north of Milton, NY and 12 miles north of the city of Newburgh, NY. The Duzine of New Paltz, the governing body of 12 men, who were responsible for matters of land within the New Paltz Patent, believed that Juffrow's Hook was actually located about a half mile downstream from Blue Point, which was their contention in the legal battles over the boundaries of the New Paltz Patent. But the opposing parties eventually prevailed, with the court deciding that Juffrow's Hook was the same as Blue Point.
We can't be sure where the Rev. Falckner thought Juffrow's Hook was located, but apparently not far from Blue Point on the west bank of the Hudson River. Dennis Relje lived in a stone house not far from Juffrow's Hook and his connections to New Paltz are of interest. "The first mention we find of any Relyea is when the name of Dennis Relje appears as godfather at the baptism of a child of Hugo Freer and his wife, Mary LeRoy, in 1693. Dennis' wife's name was Joanna LeRoy. Probably she and Hugo Freer's wife were sisters. Dennis Reljea or a son of the same name long occupied the house on the Hudson, south of Juffrow's Hook, where the bounds of the patent struck the river. Dennis and wife, Joanna LeRoy, had several children baptized in the Kingston church - David in 1703, Claudina in 1706, Hester in 1708."72 Dennis Relje and Lorentz Schwisser may very well have been acquainted and it is worth exploring any connections.
Recall that Isaac Feber [LeFevre] and Daniel Fiere [Ferree] were also in Kocherthal's group of Germans in London in 1708. George N. LeFevre claims that "Daniel and Isaac took their families to New Paltz, about 15 miles north of Newburgh, where four of Isaac's cousins were living. They were the children of his uncle Simon LeFevre who, with his unmarried brother Andrew, had come to America in the 1660's."62 Ralph Le Fevre tells us that Simon must have died about 1690 and his widow married Moses Cantain.72 They occupied the LeFevre house in New Paltz until the LeFevre boys were grown then moved to Ponckhockie about 1700. Simon's children were Andre [Andrew], Isaac, Jean [John] and Mary, the four cousins mentioned by G. N. LeFevre. They were in possession of the LeFevre home in New Paltz after the death of their father [Andrew, their unmarried uncle, may also have had a share of the home until his death].
Eleven of the twelve Patentees of New Paltz actually lived near each other along the street now known as Huguenot Street in New Paltz, NY. At the north end of the street was the house of the Freers and next to it was the home of Simon LeFevre. Blue Point is about 8.5 miles southeast of the patentee homes in New Paltz.
Considering all of this information, it is not hard to imagine that Lorentz Schwisser was friendly with the families of Isaac LeFevre and Daniel Ferree, all of the same group of Germans who arrived in the New World on January 1, 1709 on the ship Globe. Furthermore, the LeFevres and Ferrees lived briefly in New Paltz, possibly next door to or near the home of Hugo Freer. And Dennis Reljea, who lived in a location near the home of Lorentz Schwisser, was the godfather of Hugo Freer's child at the baptism in 1693.
Lorentz Schwisser was living near Juffrow's Hook, west bank of Hudson River, on April 17, 1710 when his son, John Henry, was baptized. This location is about 12 miles north of Newburgh, the location of the German Patent. The records of the Council of the Province of New York, dated May 26, 1709, indicate that nineteen of forty seven Germans changed their religion, becoming Pietists, and had withdrawn from the Rev. Kocherthal.70 The record does not list the names of the nineteen, but they may have been Lorentz Schwisser, family of 3, Henrich Rennau, family of 6, Isaac Turck, single, Maria Wemarin, widow, family of 2, Isaac Feber [LeFevre], family of 3 and Daniel Fiere [Ferree], family of 4.76 The Schwissers, Rennaus and Turck were in Kocherthal's original group of 41 and the Wemarins, LeFevres and Ferrees were part of the latecomers in London.67
The Schwisser home was in the Highland Precinct tax district. The Tax List for 1714-15 does not contain a listing for Lorentz, which suggests that he moved from that location prior to that time.76 This is consistent with Lorentz Scheitzer living in New Bristol twp., Philadelphia Co., PA in 1713, when he signed the petition for a road. It would be helpful to find that a Henrich Rennau was also present in New Bristol, but he remained in New York, where he was on the Highland Precinct tax lists for 1714/15 and 1717/18.76 We need additional information to have confidence in connecting Lorentz living near Juffrow's Hook, on the Hudson River with Lorentz living in New Bristol twp, PA. Connecting Lorentz of New Bristol to Lorentz in New York is essential in locating Abraham Lefever's home in Germany.
A Lawrence Sweitzer, with a will probated in Philadelphia Co., PA on May 8, 1776, is believed to be the man who married Abraham Lefever's daughter, Catherine. His will names his wife as Mary Elizabeth, so she would have been a subsequent wife to Catherine, who presumably died before Lawrence married Mary. The children named in the will are Lawrence, Henry, Jacob, Magdalen, Yannica, Cathrine and Margaret. The name Yannica is said to be derived from the Hebrew name Yochana and Yochana was translated into Latin as Joanna or Johanna. Thus, it seems that the children of Lawrence, named Henry and Yannica, are consistent with the names Johan Henrich and Johanna, the children of Lorentz Schwisser, who lived briefly near Blue Point on the Hudson River after arriving in America in 1710.
Lawrence contributed 5 shillings for the construction of a stone wall to be built around the Upper Germantown Burying-ground on April 11, 1760 and was buried in the same cemetery in 1776. He died on April 30th, aged 95 years, 8 months, 5 days "1776 Apr 30, Lorentz Schweitzer, aged 95 yrs. 8 mos. 5 days."73 Accepting this record, he was born on August 25th. The record Lorens Schwisser, husbandman, aged 25; his wife Anna Catharina, aged 26, and their child Johanna, aged 8 months is said to be dated June 28, 1708..69 If Lorenz was 25 on June 28, 1708, he would be 93 years old in the spring of 1776 when a man with a similar name died, not 95 years old. Given the uncertainties of a birth year for an elderly person in 1776, the discrepancy of 2 years should not rule out Lawrence Sweitzer, 95 at death, as the same man Lorentz Schwisser, age 25 in 1708. The evidence provided so far is consistent with the identity of Lorentz, a Newburgh Palatine as the same man who married Catherine, daughter of Abraham Lefever and who lived in New Bristol, Philadelphia Co., PA. But I believe it falls short of proof.
Henrich Schwitzler (#711 on Hunter List) may have been related to Lorentz. Henrich was apparently the Henrig Switseler, with wife and four children, who came to London with the 5th party of Palatines on Capt. Thomas Keÿ's ship, departing Rotterdam on July 15, 1709.66 There is no surviving arrival list for the 5th party in London. Jones provides some interesting information under Henrich's name in his book. He believes that Henrich was related to Schwitzlers living near Landau, Rhenish Palatinate, Germany. Rudolf, son of Martin Schwitzler and Anna Peter, was baptized at Ellsauw, Switzerland on February 9, 1634. His birth certificate recorded in 1667 in the Ellsauw parish books states that one year ago (1666) he had settled at Offenbach (Offenbach is 3 km east of Landau). Abraham Schwitzler lived at Mörlheim near Offenbach as early as 1661 and had a son Michael baptized there August 1, 1669. After living in the Hunter camps along the Hudson River, records show that Henrich Schwitzler remained in New York, where he apparently died. The widow of Hendrick Swetselar is recorded on the South Ward tax rolls in 1727/28 and 1728/29.66 Once again, circumstantial evidence suggests that our Abraham Lefever may have lived in the vicinity of Landau.
Further study of the family of Lorentz Schwisser may allow us to conclude with confidence that Abraham did indeed live in or near Landau before he came to America. But it may be necessary to draw our conclusions based on strong circumstantial evidence alone. Due to the ravages of war in southwest Germany, many records were lost, possibly including records of Abraham's residence near Landau.
The map below covers the area around Landau, Germany. The border of France is about 12 miles south of Landau, outside the map boundaries.
Abraham LeFever of New Bristol, Philadelphia Co., PA
In New Bristol, Abraham Lefever purchased 500 acres of land on October 5, 17103. If he was really poor, how did he manage to purchase this land for £80? Did he obtain a mortage or did he have the cash on hand? On June 6, 1720, Abraham sold 100 acres of the 500-acre tract to Lorentz Switzer (presumably his son-in-law) for £14. This deed provides the history of ownership as follows. George and Frances Rogers, of Cork, Ireland, obtained 5,000 acres from the proprietor of Pennsylvania, William Penn, on March 23, 1681. George and Frances sold the land to George Collet, of Clonmel, Ireland, who by his will of November 28, 1696, bequeathed the same 5,000 acres to his two grandsons, Nathaniel and Joseph Pennock. Nathaniel died in testate and Abraham Lefevre bought 500 of the 5,000 acres from Joseph Pennock and his wife Mary of Marlborough Township, Philadelphia County, PA. The purchase price was £80.3
On June 2, 1713, Abraham Lefevre signed a petition for a road to "Wide Marsh," Whitemarsh, or Farmer's Mill. The petitioners were residents of Skippack and adjoining plantations.3
Building on Kriebel Mill Road, near the intersection of Kriebel Mill Rd. and Green Hill Rd. Note mill stone incorporated into wall.
Mill stone in wall, intersection of Green Hill Road and Kriebel Mill Road.
Zacharias Creek, at bridge on Green Hill Road, near intersection with Kriebel Mill Rd.
Will of Abraham Lefever3
"I, Abraham Lefever, of Skepack, in the County of Philadelphia, yeoman, give and bequeth unto my son, Johannes Lefever all and singular my real and personal estate. I give and bequeath unto my oldest daughter in law, Catharine Switser, one English shilling, and to my youngest daughter in law, Elizabeth Wink, likewise one English shilling. All the rest and residue of my estate I bequeath to my son Johannes and my son Johannes is to be the sole Executor. Signed, Tenth of March, 1729/30. Abraham Lefever, "his mark" Probated July 2, 1733.
Transcript of Will of Abraham LeFever of Philadelphia, PA Recorded in Will Book E, p. 251-2 Transcribed from an actual copy of the recorded will by Gene Rooks
In the Name of God, Amen, I Abraham LeFEVER of Skepack in the County of Philad.a yeoman, being now in health & of a sound & disposing mind & memory-Thanks be given to God. Therefore, considering the uncertainty of this transitory life & the certainty of death, Do make & ordain this my Last Will & Testament in manner & form following: That is to say, First of all, I recommend my soul into the hands of God my mercifull Creator & Savior, & my body I commit to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Exec. Hereafter named, whom I also desire to pay & satisfy all my just debts and dutys wch. I owe in right or conscience to any manner of person, as also Funeral Expenses, within a convenient time after my Decease. And for the setling of my worldy & temporal estate wherewith it hath pleased the Lord to bless mine Endeavors I Devise & Dispose of the same as followeth. Imprimus I Give & Bequeath unto my son Johannes LeFEVER all & singular my Real & Personal Estate. Secondly I Give & Bequeath unto my Eldest Daughter in Law Catherine SWITSER one English Shilling, & unto my Youngest Daughter in Law Elizabeth WINSE Likewise one English Shilling. All the residue of my Estate both Real & personal House & Land or creatures-whatsoever it may be I Give & Bequeath & Devise unto my said Son Johannes LeFEVER & to his heirs & assigns forever. Lastly I do Depute and Appoint my said Son Johannes LEFEVER to be my whole & sole executor of this my Last Will & Testament, hereby utterly Revoking & Annulling all other wills & testaments, Confirming this & no other to be my Last Will & Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal the Tenth Day of March 1729/30. Abraham (his mark) LeFEVER Seal Signed Sealed Published & Declared by the Testator of as his Last Will & Testament in the presence of us, the hereunto subscribed Witnesses. Antonius Helmas(n), Richard Jacob, Johanes Re?efer In the County of Philad.a July 2nd, 1733. Then personally appeared Antonius Helmas & Rich. Jacob two of the witnesses to the foregoing will & on their Oath did Declare they saw & heard Abraham Lefever the Testator Sign, Seal, publish & Declare the same will to be his Last Will & Testament & that at the doing thereof he was of Sound Mind, memory, & understanding to the best of their knowledge. Coram Caspar Leitbecker by authority from P?. Evans Reg.Gen. Be it Remembered that on the 2nd day of July, 1733, the Last Will & Testament of Abraham LeFever dec'd was proved in due form of Law, & Probate & Letters Testamentary were Granted to Johannes Lefever sole Exec. Therein named having first sworn well & truly to administer the sd. Dec'd estate and bring an Inventory thereof into the Register General's Office at Philad.a at or before the Second day of August next, and Rendering a true & just Acct. when thereunto Lawfully Required. Given under the Seal of the sd. Office P? Evans Reg. Gen.
Note: The copy I received is from the actual original will book, where the documents presented to the clerk by the probate witnesses were handwritten into the records. The handwriting of the clerk who copied the will into the will book was relatively easy to read. Two names are of particular interest, that of daughter Elizabeth WINSE, and that of witness Antonius HELMAS. Elsewhere her name has been abstracted as Elizabeth WINK. This is incorrect, the word was written by the clerk as WINSE. For comparison, the very next word was 'likewise', which included both a K and another ending SE. I believe this is Elizabeth WENTZ, wife of Peter. The witness Antonius HELMAS had his name written twice, and it is copied ending in an 's', not an 'n'. Nevertheless, I believe this is Anthony Hallman/Heilman also of Skippack who had a daughter Christiana Leffeber mentioned in his will of 1759. He also had a daughter Barbara who was married to Richard JACOBS. Johannes Lefever was married to a Christiana. Notice also Abraham refers to Catherine and Elizabeth as daughters-in-law. This is usually taken to mean step-daughter, which raises some very interesting questions, or it may simply mean a reference he chose because his daughters were now married women. I have run into this before where there was no question but that the daughter was an actual daughter. I am open to further interpretations as to why that wording is in the will. Gene in Gotha
the information below from: http://genforum.com/lefevre/messages/277.html
County of Philadelphia the Second Day of july 1733
There Personely appeared, Antonius helmaj (could be a "j" or a trailing "s"), Richard Jacob, two of the Witnesses to the within written will Abraham Lefevers upon his oath and on his affirmation did declare they saw and heard Abraham Lefever sign seal publish and Declare the within written will to be his Last Will and Testament and the doing there of he was of sound mind memory and understanding to the best of their knowledge.
(illegible) Caspar Lightbecker by authority from the apriasment of Abraham Lefever.
Estate was made the Second Day of July 1733.
Abraham's religion, education, occupation and ancestry
Abraham signed his will with a mark, which would lead us to believe that he could not write and by extension could not read. The inventory of his estate would indicate the opposite; he owned "all sorts of books." There could be other explanations for a lack of signature on the will, and as we learn more about his family, there is additional evidence that they were literate. His son, John, did sign his will and in that will we learn that he owned a "Dutch" Bible (presumably a German Bible). A plausible scenario would have Abraham hand down this German Bible to his son, perhaps a Bible that he acquired while living in southwest Germany. Considering the origin of Abraham's surname, provided by George N. LeFevre, it seems likely that Abraham descended from a family of educated people in France.
From the list of arrivals in London, May 1709, we learned that Abraham was of the Reformed faith. If he did own a German Bible, then we might assume he was associated with a German Reformed church in southwest Germany. In contrast, some other LeFevres who lived in southwest Germany maintained their connection to the French language in their religious practices. Isaac LeFevre of 1669 had in his possession a French Bible when he arrived in America. His brother-in-law, Daniel Fierre, belonged to the French Reformed Church in Pelican, Lower Palatinate.63 Isaac's uncles, Simon and Andrew, settled in New Paltz, NY. The church there, founded in 1683, maintained records in French for the first 50 years of its existence. "Several of the older settlers at New Paltz brought with them certificates of membership in the churches with which they had united, while sojourning in the Palatinate. Two at least of the Patentees and probably others had Bibles in the French language."72
If you will allow me to venture a speculation, I would suggest that our Abraham was integrated to a greater degree into German society than Isaac, Simon and Andrew. Perhaps he lived in Germany for a longer time than the other LeFevres and perhaps he married a German woman.
Turning again to the arrivals list in London, May 1709, we find that the men were categorized into 21 occupations: husbandmen (farmers), husbandmen & vinedressers (farmers and those who worked vineyards), herdsmen, wheelwright, smiths, saddler, millers, bakers, brewer, butchers, cloth & linen weavers, tailors, shoemaker, stocking weaver, tanner, carpenters, joiners, masons, coopers, bookbinder and miner. The list informs that Abraham was a farmer [in southwest Germany]. He continued that occupation in America, but he also had a mill. I have not located any documentation that would indicate that Abraham was an artisan as suggested by his surname. Those occupations were presumably the livelihood of his ancestors.
Abraham's descendants were also farmers but had additional occupations. His son, grandson, and great grandson were proprietors of taverns in Pennsylvania and Virginia. His great grandson, Abraham Lefever, II, was also a potter. And his son, Andrew, was the founder of a long family tradition of potters in Tennessee. The pottery these later Lefevers manufactured was utilitarian in character, but I believe they could be considered artisans of the craft. Who taught the Lefevers to make pottery? Was Abraham Lefever, II, the first potter in the family, or was this craft handed down by Abraham of 1659 or his ancestors?
2. Johannes (John) Lefever abt. 1702-1779
last updated February 20, 2011