Johann Philip Schmeyer and Maria Salome Stephan met and married in the Saarland, a region of hills and forests in southwestern Germany.1 He was the son of Hans Franz Schmeyer and Anna Elizabeth Bungert of Nohfelden.2 She was the daughter of Michael Stephan and Anna Margretha Kunz, who were married in 1694 in Wolferweiler. All of the little towns where these families lived formed a cluster at the northern edge of Saarland, where it met the Rheinland-Palatinate.3
In 1733 Philip and Maria immigrated to Pennsylvania with their two surviving children, Johann Jacob and the infant Elisabetha Catharine.4 They first traveled up the Rhine to Rotterdam, then boarded the Pennsylvania Merchant, sailing from Rotterdam with a stop in Plymouth to load supplies. The trans-Atlantic voyage of the time could be dangerous, if disease spread on the crowded ship, or if contrary winds kept them at sea too long and the food ran low. But the Pennsylvania Merchant seemed to fare well, since 67 men took the oath of allegiance along with Philip on September 13 in Philadelphia.
The fertile land close to Philadelphia had long since been taken up by Quaker farmers. By 1733 German immigrants were spreading out into northern Bucks County, Philadelphia County and even farther, but not yet across the Allegheny Mountains. Philip went to the extreme northern end of Bucks County, to Macungie Township, which would be pulled into Lehigh County in 1752. As an early settler there he presumably had his choice of the land, choosing a place where the soil was fertile and a permanent spring flowed.5 He settled on 200 acres, for which he got a warrant in 1735.
The [first] step would be to erect or find some kind of temporary shelter… When the settlers’ immediate needs were taken care of, they would begin to clear a small tract of land to plant a garden and to build a house …The garden would be fenced off. Part of the clearing was used for vegetables and the remainder planted with fruit trees. Gradually, over time, more land was cleared for farming. The pioneer family’s first house was usually built of logs… Their homes were generally one and a half stories high. The first floors were usually hard-packed dirt which would later be covered with rough boards. The roof was usually quite steep and consisted of straw thatching laid on wooden lath which was placed across hand-hewn wooden rafters… The interiors were quite primitive. There were usually three rooms on the first floor, a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. In the wall between the kitchen and the living room there generally was a fireplace which was used for cooking and for heat. …Above the first floor was a loft reached by steep stairs or a ladder. This area was used by the children for a bedroom.6
When Philip was naturalized in 1743, he was listed as a miller. He died about 1750.8 A few years later the family faced a crisis. The Lenni Lenape had been angered by the Walking Purchase in 1737, when Penn’s sons bent the rules of an agreement in order to seize more land than the natives had agreed on. In 1755, encouraged by the French, the natives attacked settlements in Berks County. Many families fled east into Bucks County and stayed with fellow members of their church. Maria and her children probably fled as part of this movement. There is no record of their going, but the daughter Elizabeth Catharine, twenty-two years old at the time, stayed in central Bucks County after the others were back in Macungie, twenty-five miles to the west. She married Jacob Maust and had a large family.9
After Philip’s death, Maria married William Fegley; she died in 1759.
Children of Philip and Maria:
Johann Jacob, born 1728, died 1791, married Walborga Fegley. They lived in Macungie Township, where Jacob wrote his will, proved in April 1791.10 In it he named Walborga and eight living children. The children shared his personal estate, except for the sons Jacob and Philip who had already bought the land from their father. Children: Jacob, Susanna, Grate (Gertrude? Margaretta?), Regina, John, Daniel, Ann Elizabeth, Philip.11
Johann Nicklaus, born 1730, died in infancy.
Elisabeth Catharine, born 1733, died 1803, married Jacob Maust about 1755. They lived in Bedminster, Bucks County, where Jacob was a farmer. He died in 1807, leaving a will. In it he named four sons Jacob, John, George, and Frederick and daughters Magdalen, Mary and Elizabeth. His daughter Kathren had died before him. His wife Catherine was also dead.12
John Peter, baptized 1735, no further records.
Daniel, born 1738, died 1812, lived in Macungie, a blacksmith, married and Elizabeth Scherer and Catherine Keyser, served in the Militia during the Revolution.13 He died in 1812, leaving a will in which he referred to his wife and named his living children. Children of Daniel and Elizabeth: Daniel, Philip. Children of Daniel and Catherine: Maria Catherine, John, Peter, Elizabeth, Solomon, Sarah, Susannah, Benjamin, Joshua, James.14
Anna Margretha, born 1743, no further records.
Michael, born 1745, served in the Revolution, opposed the 1798 tax and joined the Fries Rebellion, died in prison where he died of yellow fever. Married Maria Magdalena Kuchel, lived in Macungie. Died in 1800; buried at Zion Lutheran, Alburtis, with his wife. Children: Gertrude, Catherine, Elizabeth, Maria Lavina, Johann Jacob, Magdalena, Abraham, Rachel.15
John Philip, born 1748, died 1819 in Adams County, Pennsylvania. He married Maria Magdalena Seitz and had six children with her. Children: Catherine Barbara, Johann Wilhelm, Johann, Lorenz, Salome, Catherine.16
- The Schmeyer family has been thoroughly studied—the German generations by Hans Schmeyer, a descendant who still lives in the Saarland, and the American descendants by Elmer Dickson, who published a book on the Schmoyer family. William M. Kaffenberger added his own research to theirs, and posted a detailed synthesis at https://www.genealogy.com/ftm/s/m/y/Luther-Cecil-Smyre-Tenn/FILE/0001page.html, including many references. ↩
- The family has been traced back several more generations. Hans Franz was the son of Ernst Craft Schmeyer, born 1642 in Ellweiler, and Barbara Hoth. Ernst owned a sawmill. His father Johannes was a fisherman. (Kaffenberg, based on research by Hans Schmeyer). ↩
- Birkenfeld and Ellweiler, where Philip’s grandfather Johann lived, were north of Nohfelder. Wolfensweiler was southeast of Nohfelder, all within eight miles or so. ↩
- The family used the German naming convention where the sons had the first name of Johann, but were probably known by their middle names. The list of men taking the oath of allegiance included Philip Schmeyer. ↩
- John Stoudt et al (eds), History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, 1914, chapter on Macungie Township by Rev. Melville Schmoyer. ↩
- Elmer Dickson, Schmoyer Family, 1986, quoted on the Kaffenberger site, 1999. ↩
- Kaffenberger. ↩
- He did not leave a will and apparently there is no church record of his burial. ↩
- It is hard to see how Jacob and Catherine would have met, living twenty-five miles apart, without a circumstance such as the war in 1754. ↩
- Kaffenberger suggested that this Jacob went to North Carolina, although he admitted that the evidence is confusing and the identification an open question. ↩
- Penn Germania, vol. 13; Northampton County wills, Vol. 2, p. 120. ↩
- Bucks County wills, Book 7, p. 287. His name was written as Jacob “Most”. He was living in Nockamixon Township at the time. The executors were son George and son-in-law Stophel Trauger. The published will abstracts, made in 1998, listed only three sons, one named “John George”. In the original will Jacob specified that he has four sons and names them as “Jacob, John, George and Frederick”. A comma makes all the difference. ↩
- Kaffenberger has the order of the wives switched. It is not clear which is correct, since Daniel did not actually name his wife in his will. ↩
- John Stoudt et al (eds), History of Lehigh County, 1914, vol. 3, p. 1150; Lehigh County estates on Ancestry (PA Wills and Probate 1683-1993, Lehigh, Estate Papers, File 1-94, images 16-31). ↩
- Dickson, quoted in Kaffenberger; Ancestry trees. ↩
- Dickson, cited in Kaffenberger. I have not yet confirmed this. ↩