Michael Simon of Germantown

Michael Simon was baptized in May 1703 in the Lutheran Church at Horn in the Hunsrück district of the Rhineland, the son of Johann Zacharias and Anna Barbara.1 Johann Zacharias had been baptized in August 1676 in nearby Pleizenhauser, the son of Johannes.2 Zacharias and Anna Barbara were married in November 1700 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Horn. The towns where the Simons lived are a few miles west of the Rhine, in a flat area, with low mountains to the north and south setting the area apart.

In April 1731 Michael married Anna Elizabeth Cloessing, at the Evangelical Church in Sargenroth, ten miles south of Horn.3 Holzbach, where their son Johann Barthel was baptized in 1736, is a few miles north of Sargenroth, on the road to Horn. Michael and Anna Elizabeth had three more children baptized in Hunsrück.4

In 1741 Michael and his wife and children made a momentous change, immigrating to Pennsylvania.5 They sailed first to Rotterdam, then boarded the ship Molly, captained by Thomas Olive. The ship stopped in Deal to load provisions, then started across the Atlantic.6 The sea voyage could be dangerous in the 1700s. “Many who had never sailed before crowded the small vessels with poor sailors and rotten accommodations. They lived for six to eight weeks in cramped space on board, holding fast to the trunks, chests or baggage which contained all their worldly wealth.”7 Disease and starvation were always a threat. If winds were unfavorable, the voyage might take much longer than the usual six weeks. Judging from the list of 76 men who took the oath of allegiance with Michael after they landed, the Molly did not lose many passengers.8 They landed in Philadelphia, where Michael and his shipmates took the oath of allegiance on October 17 at the courthouse.

With no known relatives in Pennsylvania, the first few months of their stay might have been difficult. Perhaps they found a house to rent. In any case, they settled in Cresheim, in the northwest end of Germantown. Michael bought a small lot from Anthony Tunis in 1755, but soon sold that lot and moved closer to Germantown.9 They went to the Reformed Church there and added six more children to their family. Michael worked as a hatter

It is not clear from the records how many times Michael married, but it may have been three times.10 His first wife Anna Elizabeth was named as the mother in the baptisms of his children in Germany. (They had been married in 1731). In Aug 1758, the records of Germantown Reformed Church reported that Elizabeth Barbara, wife of Michael Simon, died, age 48. Born about 1710, this woman was too old to be the wife of Michael’s son Michael. When Michael made his will in 1773, he was married to a woman named Anna Margaretta. In 1776 they sponsored a baptism together.11

Michael wrote his will in 1773, twelve years before he died. In it he called himself a hatter of Creesham. He left the best bed and its furnishings to his wife Anna Margaretta, plus one-third of the personal estate and an annuity to be paid out of the rent of the house and lot. The implication is that she would not be living there.12 The remainder of his personal goods were to be sold and the proceeds divided among the children. After Anna Margaretta died, the house and lot were to be sold and the proceeds divided as well. The eight living children were Zacharias, John Bartle, Henry, Michael, Peter, Catherine, Barbara, and Elizabeth. Sebastian Unruh was the executor.13 The will was proved in May 1785 and the inventory taken.14 The household goods were scanty, and the total came to only £287.19.6. After the debts were paid, £257.9.8 remained to be shared among the heirs.15

Children of Michael:

Anna Catharina, baptized 1732, no further records, may have died young.

Johann Zacharias, baptized 1734, no marriage record found for him, died in Germantown in 179116

Johann Bartel, baptized 1736, alive in 1773.17 In his father’s will of 1773, he was called John Bartle (the only one of the five sons to be doubly-named). In the 1785 account of Michael’s estate, a John Simon had claims against the estate.18

Philippina Maria, baptized 1739, no further records, may have died young.

Henry, born about 1743, married Elizabeth Schaefer in Feb 1765 at Germantown Reformed Church, in the tax list in Germantown in 1782 as a hatter, later as a stocking weaver.19 In January 1766 their daughter Anna Margaret was baptized at St. Michael’s Church in Germantown. Michael and Anna Margaret were the sponsors.

Catharina, born about 1746, married in 1764 George Sebastian Unruh, son of Johann and Apollonia, lived in Bristol Township, Philadelphia County, where he was a prosperous farmer. Sebastian died in 1813; Catharine died in 1818. Children: John, Philip, Elizabeth, Sebastian, Michael, George, William, Abraham.

Barbara, born about 1748, married John Batt at Germantown Reformed Church in May 1767.20 Barbara was named in her father’s will in 1773.

Elizabeth, born 1749, alive in 1773, no marriage records found.

Michael, born 1752, married Anna Rubincam in 1773 at the Germantown Reformed Church, had a son John Michael born June 1774, baptized at the same church.21 In 1785 administration of the estate of Michael Simon was granted to Ann Simon. This is unlikely to be Michael’s father, in spite of the coincidence of names, since the older Michael left a will and a different executor. Perhaps Michael died the same year as his father.

Peter, born 1754, married Elizabeth Bocklin in 1776 at Germantown Reformed Church. She might have been a Bockius, a known Germantown family.22 They lived in Germantown. Peter was a cordwainer, taxed there in 1779 through 1782, and probably still there in 1809, on the tax list.23 No administration has been found for Peter. Known children: Henry, Charles.



  1. Her last name is difficult to read in the church records; it may be Veit. Some transcriptions have it as Hamatozer; this does not seem like a plausible surname. She died in 1739.
  2. The Simon family used a common German naming pattern for their sons, using Johannes for the first name of all of them, but calling them by their middle name. Johann Zacharias is sometimes called Zacharias in the records, and probably answered to that. In his will Michael called his sons Zacharias, John Bartle, Henry, Michael, and Peter.
  3. An older Anna Elizabeth Cloessing was buried in Simmern, Hunsrueck, in June 1704, age 28, Perhaps she was the mother of the younger Anna Elizabeth. (Rhineland, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1533-1950, on Ancestry)
  4. There is some uncertainty about the parentage of Michael’s children. Anna Elizabeth is listed as the mother of the first three children: Anna Catharine, Johann Zacharias, and Johann Bartel. However, Elizabeth Barbara Simon, wife of Michael, died in 1758 in Germantown at age 48. Without a marriage record or baptismal records, it is impossible to tell when she married Michael, if in fact she was married to this same Michael Simon, and whether she was the mother of any of the children. There are no large gaps between the births of Michael’s children. Therefore the assumption here is that Anna Elizabeth was the mother of all of the children, and that Elizabeth Barbara (possibly), and later Anna Margaretta, were later marriages.
  5. We do not know whether they actually all came at the same time. Often men would come alone, sending for their families later. Since Michael had a son Henry born in Germantown about 1743, it is likely that his wife and children came with him in 1741.
  6. Deal did not have a harbor as much as an anchorage. Ships would anchor offshore in the Downs, an area of shallow sea, protected by Goodwin Sands, a large sandbank six miles from the shore. Protected from storms, ships could load passengers and provisions, via small boats, and wait for favorable winds.
  7. William Parsons, Pennsylvania Germans: A persistent minority, 1965.
  8. Strassburger and Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers.
  9. Hannah Benner Roach, “The back part of Germantown”, Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, vol. 20.
  10. The assumption here is that Anna Elizabeth was the mother of all the children, primarily because there is no large gap in the births of the children. However, this could easily be incorrect, in which case Elizabeth Barbara may have been the mother of the ones born in Germantown. Her last name is not known. The span of births for the children is about 22 years, within the possible range for one woman.
  11. No marriage record has been found for Michael and Anna Margaretta. A Michael Simon married Catharine Weibel in 1758. He has not been identified.
  12. This is a (slight) suggestion that at least some of Michael’s children were hers.
  13. Philadelphia County wills, Book T, p. 138, City Hall, Philadelphia.
  14. Philadelphia County estates, 1785, Philadelphia City Hall.
  15. Unfortunately the final account did not say how many heirs were still living, after the twelve-year gap between the signing and the probate of Michael’s will.
  16. No administration has been found for him. The marriage records of Germantown Reformed Church start in 1753; it is unlikely that he was married before then.
  17. He was named in his father’s will, written in 1773. There was a Johannes Simon who died in Easton, Northampton  County in 1814, but he was apparently the son of a Johann Hartman Simon. It is a coincidence, however, that a John Batt also died in Easton a few years earlier. John Bartel and John Batt may have moved there together, and the association with Johann Hartman Simon may be in error.
  18. The account was filed by Jonathan Unruh on behalf of Sebastian Unruh.
  19. He was alive in 1787, when he was taxed in Germantown. No administration or will has been found for him.
  20. A John Batt died in Easton, Northampton County in 1807, age 66. If it is this John Batt, then some of the other Simon family may have gone there as well. See the note about Johann Bartel. There was more than John Batt around at the time.
  21. F. Edward Wright, 18th century records of the Germantown Reformed Church of PA, 1994. A Michael Simon and wife Anna had a son Johan George baptized at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Germantown the same year, and a son Wilhelm baptized in January 1776 at the same church. In spite of the coincidence of names, this must be a different Michael and Anna. The one who went to the Reformed church belongs in this family, naming his oldest son after his father.
  22. If this is Bockius, then she was related to the four Bockius brothers who immigrated in 1741. John “Bockins” witnessed the will of Michael Simon in 1773, and affirmed it before the Register in 1785.
  23. Thomas Shoemaker, “A list of inhabitants of Germantown and Chestnut Hill in 1809”, Penna. Magazine History and Biography, 1892, 16(1), p. 61. Peter lived toward the northern end of the town, close to the Unruh family.

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