The Mennonites of the Rhineland in the 1500s lived at the whim of the rulers. They were not citizens, nor one of the three recognized religions (Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed). They were resented by the clergy and sometimes their neighbors, because of their independence and refusal to pay war taxes.1 Initially they were welcomed in some places, because the land had been decimated by the Thirty Years’ War, and people were needed to resettle it.2 Where they were welcome, they established colonies and made an industrious living especially as weavers.3
Arnold Schumacher and his wife Agnes were some of these Mennonites. They were married about 1620 lived in Neiderdollendorf on the Rhine, near the Siebengebirge (“Seven Mountains”). Arnold died before 1655, when Agnes, as a widow, sold their lands there, including meadows and vineyards, as ordered by the ruler.4 She appeared before the rent controller with her son-in-law Matthias Bonn, and two grown sons Peter and George, to assign guardians for her under-aged children.5 Nießen, widow of the late Arndt Schumacher, and Tisza Bonn, their son-in-law, as heirs, as well as Peter and Georg, their adult children, as well as Daniel Behren and Peter Rößen as prescribed guardians [for] the underage children of both Arndt Rößen and Tisza Bonn, namely Berndtgen, Arnold, Freuchen and Adlege.” Frohnhaus pointed out that it is ambiguous whether the four children belonged to Arndt and Agnes or Tisza (Matthias) Bonn, their son-in-law.] One of the guardians was Peter Roßen, apparently her father. The properties were sold to Gerhardt von Bonn and his wife Catherine for 1440 taler. After they paid 300 taler for debts, the rest was divided among the children.
The Schumacher family of Dollendorf may have moved to Dollendorf from another area of the Rhineland. It is possible that Arnold Schumacher, husband of Agnes, was the son of Arndts Henrich and his wife of Monschau, 120 km to the west.6
“… it is possible that their roots go back to a small Mennonite colony at Monschau, in the Rhine Province of Germany, just south of Aachen and a few miles east of the Belgian frontier. … At Monschau in the year 1597, is found a Henrich Schumacher and his wife and Arndts (Arnold) Henrich and his wife, Dedenborn…When persecution began in this area, and these Mennonite families began to lose their possession by confiscation, the colony appears to have moved to Dollendorf, near Lowenburg in the Siebengebirge hills on the east bank of the Rhine River, south of Cologne.”7
By the time Peter Schumacher was middle-aged, he was living in yet another town on the Rhine. In 1665 he was fined for attending a Quaker meeting near Kreigsheim, where he was living. Kreigsheim is 200 km south of Niederdollendorf, along the Rhine. Peter was an outspoken member of the Quaker community there, and had goods impounded for refusing to bear arms and for attending religious services.8
“Once the war was ended, however, their notorious diligence attracted the favor of the new elector, the Protestant Karl Ludwig ([ruled] 1648-1680), who needed nothing more urgently than settlers to restore his ravaged land. His mild immigration policies drew not only Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed, but Mennonites and a even small Bruderhof of Hutterites from far-off Moravia as well. And so the surviving Palatine Anabaptist communities shortly became the base for new settlements of harassed fellow-believed from both north (The ‘Siebengebirge’ area) and south (Switzerland and Alsace)… Already in 1652 the church office in Niederflörsheim, the next village north of Kriegsheim, was complaining that foreign ‘Anabaptists’… had slipped into their community.”9
Children of Arnold and Agnes:
Peter, b. about 1622, immigrated in 1685, died in 1707.
George, b. ab. 1625, married Sarah, died before 1685 in Germany.
a daughter, married Matthias Bonn
- John Ruth, Maintaining the Right Fellowship, 1984, p. 26. ↩
- Ruth, p. 28. ↩
- Ruth, p. 30; Benjamin Shoemaker III, Shoemaker Pioneers, 1975, citing research by Wilhelm Niepoth and Walther Risler. ↩
- Probably the Elector Philip William. ↩
- The record was found and published by Wilhelm Niepoth and Walther Risler in Germantown Crier, 1957. The text can be found in several places online. The most helpful discussion is that of Andreas Frohnhaus of Niederdollendorf, who corrected some errors in the transliteration and translation. Viewing a copy of the original document, he noted that the German word “Eithumb” is not a man’s name, but instead means “son-in-law”, and corrected the name Treinchen (little Catherine) to Freuchen (little Veronica or Fronica). Frohnhaus’ comments can be found in a post at: https://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/schumacher/946/. His corrected version reads roughly as “[The four judges announced that before us appeared ↩
- Dedenborn is a German surname. Her first name is not known. ↩
- Niepoth and Risler, quoted in Shoemaker Pioneers. ↩
- Numerous sources, including Hull, William Penn and the Dutch Quakers; Pennypacker, Settlement of Germantown; Davis, History of Bucks County. ↩
- Ruth, p. 28. ↩
- If in fact Peter did have a brother Arnold, he stayed in Germany. The 1655 record is ambiguous, as Frohnhaus pointed out. ↩