Peter Shoemaker and his children

The Schumacher family was prominent in the records of religious persecution in Kriegsheim on the Upper Rhine.1 Peter Schumacher was born around 1622, the son of the Mennonites Arnold Schumacher and Agnes Roesen. Peter was an early convert to Quakerism through the efforts of traveling missionaries. In 1665 he was fined two guilders for attending a meeting of Friends at Worms, a two-hour ride away from Kreigsheim.2  He and his brother George and other Quakers were fined for refusing to bear arms, and for holding religious meetings. The fines included one shilling sterling (imposed upon every Friend for attendance at each religious meeting), numerous cows, “a fat sow”, an ass, bedding, pewter, and from one-seventh to one-fifth of their garden produce.”3 When the local people protested this treatment of the Friends, the Burggraff John Shoffer “forbade their speaking much about it.”4

In 6th Month, 1677 Penn himself visited this part of the Rhineland.

“… we returned that night by the Rhine to Worms, from whence we … Walked on Foot to Crisheim, which is about six English miles from Worms. We had a good Meeting from the Tenth until the Third Hour, and the Lord’s Power sweetly opened to many of the Inhabitants of the Town that were at the Meeting; yea, the Vaught or Chief Officer himself Stood at the Door behind the Barn, where he could hear, and not be seen; who went to the Priest and told him, that it was his Work, if we were Hereticks, to discover us to be such, but for his Part, he had heard nothing but what was Good, and he would not meddle with us. … Poor Hearts, a little Handful surrounded with Great and Mighty Countries of Darkness…”5

In 1678 Peter Schumacher, his brother George, Christoffel Morrel, Hans Laubach, and Gerret Hendricus circulated a daring poem as a broadside, showing their defiance of the authorities.

“Let our proud foes fume and rage,
Let their power vainly storm!
God is with us in this age;
He regards their threats with scorn.
Though they hold us for their sport,
Our hope still is stayed on God!”6

The Quakers continued to be a thorn in the side of the authorities, until in May 1685 the government threatened to banish them.

“The Friends of Krisheim had still to meet the church-tithes and the Turkish-war taxes which were demanded of them, both of which they steadfastly refused to pay as being contrary to their religious principles. Their refusal also to stand sentinel at the town’s walls was the last straw which broke the patience of the electoral steward at Hochheim, Herr Schmal by name, who [petitioned] the government to order the banishment of ‘the foolish sect’.”7

On the 8th of May, Gerhard Hendricks, Hans Peter Umstat, and Peter Schumacher petitioned for permission to leave Kriegsheim. They needed passports to travel up the Rhine and out of German lands. It is not clear whether they received passports, but they probably did, since they appeared in Rotterdam by early August. There they signed contracts with the merchant Dirck Sypman for land in Germantown. Peter paid two rix dollars for 200 acres. Sypman, a wealthy Mennonite merchant of Krefeld, had no intention of immigrating himself; he had bought rights to 5,000 acres in Pennsylvania, to be laid out on condition that he settle a number of families there. Schumacher was to proceed “with the first good wind” to Pennsylvania, where the land was to be laid out.8 At the same time that Schumacher signed his deed, Gerhard Hendricks and Hans Peter Umstat signed similar deeds. It is possible that Sipman paid their passage as part of the deal.9

From Rotterdam they would catch a boat to London, and then journey across the Atlantic to Pennsylvania. Peter was traveling with four of his children. He had been married about 1655, but his wife’s name is not known.10 They had five known children before her death, sometime before 1685. One of the daughters, Agnes, was married to the Mennonite Dielman Kolb, and would stay in Germany. The others—Peter, Mary, Frances, and Gertrude—sailed with Peter on the Frances and Dorothy, and arrived in Philadelphia on 12 October 1685.11 Passengers arriving in Philadelphia were supposed to register their arrival with the authorities. This was largely ignored, but many of the passengers from the Frances and Dorothy were registered, including Peter Schumacher’s family and his cousin Sarah, Isaac Shepherd, Hans Peter Umstat, Garret Hendricks, Henry Pookeholes, John Saxby, and Aron Wonderley.12 Sarah Shoemaker, the widow of Peter’s brother George, came on the Frances and Dorothy with seven children and settled on 200 acres in Cheltenham.13

When Peter arrived he found that Sipman’s land was not convenient for settlement. “Pieter acknowledged that he had received 200 acres in Germantown from Sipman, which shall be delivered according to measurement by Herman Isaacs op den Graeff, for a yearly rent of two rix-dollars a year, “without any reduction, whatsoever the pretense may be”.14 But when he arrived in Germantown he found that Sipman’s land was “so far out of the way that said Peter Schumacher upon his arrival could not possibly go thither”.15 Therefore Herman Isaacs op den Graeff tried to preserve the contract between Sipman and Schumacher by granting to Shoemaker 25 acres in Germantown (adjacent to land Shoemaker bought from Abraham op den Graeff), plus 25 acres further north in Krisheim, and the remaining 150 acres in land of Sipman’s not yet laid out.”16

Peter and his family settled into the life of Germantown. In 1691 he was naturalized and made a citizen, along with his son Peter, nephews George and Isaac, and cousin Jacob. The Germans living in Pennsylvania at the time were eager to be naturalized, to ensure the legality of their land ownership. At the time Germantown had some independence, as Penn had promised, electing their own burgesses and enacting ordinances. Peter (now Anglicized to Shoemaker) served as a burgess and a justice.17 The Germantown people still had to pay taxes, and in 1693 Peter Shoemaker was on the tax list. He served on juries. One memorable case was in June 1701, when the jury decided that “the cart and lime killed the man, the wheel wounded his back and head and it killed him.”18 In 1704 Daniel Falkner went into the Germantown court and abused the justices, including Peter Shoemaker, railing most greviously” and using “foul language”. He went out crying, “You are all fools.”19

Peter was active in the affairs of the Germantown friends.20  Before they built a meeting house, they sometimes met at his house, “’in the meadow’ a quarter of a mile east of Germantown Road on Shoe-maker’s Lane now Penn Street, where William Penn preached to the people from the doorstep.”21 Peter served as a witness for Quaker marriage in Germantown, attended Quarterly Meeting as a delegate, and contributed to the building of a stone meeting house in 1705.22 Two of his children married under the auspices of Abington Monthly Meeting.23

Peter died in 1707 in Germantown. He had outlived his wife by over twenty years. “It is not known where he was buried, but it is presumed he was laid to rest in the old Shoemaker Burying Ground…on the south side of the present Cheltenham Avenue…just west of York Road…In the early Friends meetings, it is referred to as the Cheltenham Burial ground.”24


Children of Peter Shoemaker:25

Agnes, died 1705, married Dielman Kolb, stayed in Germany, where Dielman died in 1712. They had seven children. Several of the sons became Mennonite ministers and came to Pennsylvania.

Peter, born Germany, died 1741, married in 1697 Margaret Op den Graeff, daughter of Herman.26 Peter was a carpenter, active in public life in Germantown and in the affairs of the monthly meeting, acting as an overseer and repeatedly serving as a representative to the Quarterly Meeting. In 1701 he served as overseer for the school. 27 In 1703 he was appointed, with Isaac Shoemaker, to arrange for building a prison house and stocks. In 1717 he was chosen, with Thomas Canby, Morris Morris and Everard Bolton, to “comprize ye Mo: Meeting Minits, whereby they may be Transcribed according to ye mo: Meetings order.” He died in 1741 and left his land to his three sons, Isaac, Peter and John.28 Children of Peter and Margaret: Peter, Isaac, John, Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, Agnes, Sarah.

Mary, married Reynier Herman van Barkelow. Van Barkelow was born in the Netherlands and came to New York as an infant. Along with his brother Harman, he became involved with the Labadists, a Pietist sect based in Holland that had obtained land from Augustine Hermann in Bohemia Manor, Cecil County, Maryland. Mary and Reynier moved to Maryland and had a large family.29 Reynier’s will was probated in 1713 in Delaware.30 In it he named his wife Mary, children Peter, Mary, Margarette, Daniel, Susanna, William, Herman, Jacob, Samuel and Rebecca.

Fronica, married about 1690 Isaac Jacobs van Bebber, son of Jacob Isaacs van Bebber, a Mennonite of Krefeld. Along with Fronica’s sister Mary and her husband, Isaac and Fronica moved from Germantown to Bohemia Manor.31 Isaac died there in 1723, leaving a will naming children Jacob, Hester, Christina, Veronica, Peter and Isaac. His wife Fronica had died before him.32

Geertje, married Peter Cleaver the emigrant, in 1695 at Abington Meeting. Her name is often anglicized to Catherine. Peter had immigrated to Germantown about 1689 and worked as a weaver. In 1699 Peter and Catherine moved to adjoining Bristol Township, Philadelphia County and raised a large family. Peter died in 1727 and named seven children in his will; Catherine had died before him. Children: Christine, Peter, Derick, Eve, John, Isaac, Agnes.33


  1. Hull, William Penn and the Dutch Quakers. There are several published histories of the Shoemaker family, including Benjamin Shoemaker, Genealogy of the Shoemaker Family of Cheltenham, 1903; Benjamin Shoemaker III (grandson of Benjamin Shoemaker), Shoemaker Pioneers, 1975; and Thomas H. Shoemaker, The Shoemaker Family, 1893. They primarily follow the line of George and Sarah Shoemaker.
  2. Davis, History of Bucks County, p. 296.
  3. Hull, p. 276.
  4. Hull, p. 276.
  5. Thomas H. Shoemaker, The Shoemaker Family, 1893.
  6. Hull, p. 285, translated from the German. Gerret Hendricks traveled to Pennsylvania along with Peter Schumacher, signed the petition against slavery in 1688, and should not be confused with Gerret Hendricks Dewees.
  7. Hull, p. 289. Hull erroneously substituted Hans Peter Cassel for Hans Peter Umstead. The correction is made on the Umstead web site of Chris Hueneke, at, accessed April 2020. This site has extensive documentation on Hans Peter Umstat, his family, and the background of the immigration to Pennsylvania.
  8. Pennypacker, Settlement of Germantown, 1899.
  9. Umstead site. The site has an extensive discussion of their departure from Kriegsheim and dealings with Sipman/Sypman.
  10. Some researchers said that her name was Dorothy and that they had a daughter Frances, probably a confusion with the name of the ship, the Frances and Dorothy. The part about the daughter Frances (Fronica) is true at least. Another name that has been proposed is Anneke Westenraede. There is no evidence for this. Yet another name sometimes proposed is Sarah Hendricks, but this is probably a confusion with his sister-in-law, wife of his brother George, whose first name was known to be Sarah. Her last name is not known, but is often said to be Hendricks.
  11. Hannah Benner Roach, “The Philadelphia and Bucks County Registers of Arrivals”, in Walter Sheppard, Passengers and Ships prior to 1684, p. 166.
  12. Some of these people founded families that spread through the colony, while others, such as Wonderly and Pookeholes, never appear in records again.
  13. Because of her numerous descendants, this area was later called Shoemakertown. Known children of George and Sarah were George, Barbara, Abraham, Isaac, Elizabeth, Benjamin and Susanna. Jacob Shoemaker, who was signed the marriage certificate of Peter Shoemaker Jr in 1697, was probably a cousin of Peter and George. He came as an indentured servant to Francis Daniel Pastorius, married Margaret Potts, settled in Bristol Township, and died there in 1722. He left a will. (Philadelphia Wills, Book D, p. 351).
  14. Op den Graeff was acting as the local agent for Sypman. Although Op den Graeff had become a Quaker, his family were originally Mennonites of Krefeld, and must have known Sypman well.
  15. Acta Germanopolis.
  16. Duffin, Acta Germanopolis, 2008, p. 467.
  17. Stephanie G. Wolf, Urban Village, 1976.
  18. Acta Germanopolis, p. 311. This is a rare American example of a deodand, a term from English common land for an object that caused a person’s death. The owner of the deodand had to pay a fine equal to its value. (Wikipedia entry for deodand) In 1701, William Penn wrote to James Logan, his receiver, “…look carefully after all fines, forfeitures, escheats, deodands, and strays, that shall belong to me as proprietor or chief governor”. (Correspondence of William Penn and James Logan, vol. 1) It is possible that the juror in this case was Peter Shoemaker Jr, but the record does not indicate this.
  19. Acta, p. 327.
  20. Wolf, p. 170.
  21. Horace Lippincott, An account of the people called Quakers in Germantown, 1923.
  22. Hull, p. 188.
  23. In 1695 Geertje married Peter Cleaver, and in 1697 Peter Jr married Margaret op den Graeff, daughter of Herman.
  24. Shoemaker, 1903; Ralph Strassburger, Strassburger Family and Allied Families, 1922. For a list of early burials there, see the Minutes of Abington Monthly Meeting 1629-1812, on Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records 1681-1935, pp. 305-6. This is actually a book of births and deaths, with an index in the front.
  25. Compiled from various sources.
  26. The certificate was signed at the top of the list by Peter Shoemaker Sr and Herman op den Graeff. Some researchers confuse this Margaret with her aunt Margaret Shoemaker, Herman’s sister, who married Rynear Tyson about 1684. Abraham op den Graeff also had a daughter Margaret, who married the tailor Thomas How.
  27. Not surprisingly, they hired Frances Daniel Pastorius, who had served the town for years as an official. As a literate man, he worked as a scribe, writing deeds and other documents, and recording the town records. Often called “the founder of Germantown”, he actually lived in Philadelphia at first and only moved to Germantown in about 1687. (William Hull, “The Dutch Quaker Founders of Germantown”, Bulletin of the Friends Historical Association, 27(2), 1938, pp. 83-90)
  28. Philadelphia County wills, Book F, p. 201.
  29. Mrs. John Spell, “The Van Barkelo Family in America”, New York Biographical and Genealogical Record, 1953, vol. 84.
  30. New Castle County wills, Book C, p. 16.
  31. Isaac’s brother Matthias also moved to Maryland.
  32. Maryland wills, vol. 5.
  33. Philadelphia County wills, Book E, p. 72.

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