2017: The 300th Anniversary of the Great Mennonite Migration to Pennsylvania,
Including the arrival of five of the founding families of the Lititz area:
The Brubakers, Ebys, Hesses, Landises, and Shenks:
This year, 2017, is a landmark year for historians of Pennsylvania Mennonite history. It's the 300th anniversary of the immigration of more than 350 Mennonites from Germany to Philadelphia. On August 10, 1717, three shiploads of Germans arrived in Philadelphia. This was the largest group of Germans to arrive in the New World to date.
Included in this trans-Atlantic voyage were five German families who soon became some of the founding families of the Lititz area. By the fall of that year, 1717, there were more than 70 Mennonite families in what is now Lancaster County. The names of immigrants who likely arrived here in 1717 are provided by survey records and a 1718 tax census. (See: The Earth is the Lord's by John Landis Ruth, , Herald Press, Scottdale, PA.) These immigrants joined a small group of Mennonist pioneers who had arrived here a few years earlier, in 1710/11. That earlier group included the Christian Herr family, who built the Hans Herr House, which is Lancaster County's earliest surviving house.
August 10, 1717: Three shiploads of German-speaking immigrants arrive in Philadelphia:
Above: Ship illustrations (generic cuts) in 18th-century Philadelphia newspapers: The Pennsylvaia Gazette and The Pennsylvania Packet.
Below: 1720 painting of Philadelphia by Peter Cooper, at ExplorePAhistory.com
The Mennonite immigrant families of the 1717 migration who soon helped settle the Lititz area:
1. The Brubaker family: The Brubaker Homestead on the Brubaker Valley Road was settled by Hans Brubaker. His brother Daniel settled an adjoining tract west of today's Route 501. Their parents arrived in Pennsylvania with the 1717 immigrants.
2. The Eby family: The Eby Homestead on Snavely Mill Road was built in 1754 by Christian and Elizabeth Eby. Christian arrived with this 1717 immigration as a teenager, with his parents and siblings.
3. The Hess family: The Hess Homestead on Lititz Run Road was settled by Jacob and Feronica Hess. Jacob arrived in Philadelphia with the 1717 immigrants, with his parents, Hans and Magdalena, and with his siblings.
4. The Landis family: Numerous Landis families in the Lititz area trace their ancestry to Preacher Benjamin Landis and wife Maria (Weber) Landis. This Mennonite preacher arrived with the 1717 immigrants. His son Benjamin Landis Jr. and wife Anna Schnebele settled the area later known as Landis Valley. (The Landis brothers were great-great-great grandsons of this Mennonite preacher.)
5. The Shenk family: The Shenk Farm on Brubaker Valley Road was settled by Michael Shenk who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1717 with his father Michael Sr.
These 1717 immigrant families settled their Lititz-area lands by the 1730s, except for the Landises who began settlement here in 1750s, after Benjamin Landis married Anna Snavely and moved to her family's farm at Landis Valley.
Above: ca. 1715 map details, including an American Indian with a scalp, a pot of gold, and a tobacco plant. Map: This map of North America, according to ye newest and most exact observations... by Herman Moll, London. Library of Congress.
Other Lancaster County Mennonite families who arrived in the 1717 migration:
1. The Hershey family: The Hershey family settled in Lancaster Township, near today's Conestoga House and Wheatland. A third-generation descendant, Christian Hershey, settled on a farm east of Manheim. Milton Hershey, who created the Hershey chocolate company, descended from this Christian Hershey.
2. The Bachman family: The 1717 Mennonite immigrant Michael Bachman was a wealthy land speculator. He lived in Manheim Township along today's Fruitville Pike. An early Bachman farmhouse survives on this property at 2544 Fruitville Pike, Lancaster.
3. The Bear family: The Bears settled land at today's village of Oregon, where they built a grist mill. The mill was rebuilt several times and survives today. The Bears also built a tavern in Oregon on the site of today's Reflections Restaurant. This family's name is also spelled Bare and Baer. The original spelling is Bär.
4. The Brackbill family: 1717 immigrant Benedict Brackbill was a Mennonite bishop who had been expelled from Canton Bern, Switzerland, for his religious beliefs. He settled near Strasburg, Lancaster County.
5. The Brenneman family: Immigrant Melchior Brenneman settled near New Danville.
6. The Burkholder family: Immigrant Hans Burkholder settled near New Danville, where he was a Mennonite bishop.
7. The Erisman family: Immigrant Melchior Erisman settled in Lancaster Township. Erisman descendants settled in the Sporting Hill area, Lancaster County, where Erismans' meetinghouse is named for them.
8. The Forrer family: The descendants of immigrant John Forrer settled near Willow Street.
9. The Greider / Kreider family: Immigrant Jacob Greider (Greiter / Kreider) settled near Lancaster city.
10. The Herr family: 1717 immigrant Abraham Herr settled in Lancaster Township. Abraham's brother Christian Herr built the 1719 Hans Herr House, which is the earliest house in Lancaster County. Christian had immigrated here in 1710. Abraham's family built a stone farmhouse that survives today on Bentley Lane, Lancaster. Emmanuel Herr also arrived in 1717 and settled north of Strasburg.
11. The Hostetter family: Immigrant Jacob Hostetter settled south of Lancaster. A descendant, Bishop Jacob Hostetter, settled near the Hersheys east of Manheim.
12. The Kauffman family: Immigrant Andrew Kauffman settled west of Lancaster city, near Isaac Kauffman who also arrived that year. Immigrant Michael Kauffman settled south of Landisville.
13. The Keagy family: Immigrant Hans Keagy settled southwest of Lancaster city.
14. The Kendig family: The Kendig 1717 immigrants settled south of Lancaster city. Mennonite land agent Martin Kendig had arrived earlier with the 1710/11 migrants, and settled west of today's town of Willow Street.
15. The Musselman family: Immigrant Henry Musselman settled in Lancaster Township.
16. The Neff family: Immigrant Hans Heinrich Neff “The Old Doctor” settled along the Conestoga River east of Lancaster.
17. The Stoner family: Immigrant Christian Steiner (Stoner) settled in Lampeter Township.
18. The Swarr family: Immigrant Peter Swarr settled in Manheim Township. Today's Park City Mall was part of his property.
19. The Witmer family: Immigrant Benjamin Witmer settled east of Lancaster city adjoining land owned by the immigrant Landis family.
20. The Yordy family: Immigrant Peter Yorte (Yordy / Yorty) settled north of Lancaster.
Additional Mennonite families who arrived in Lancaster County with this 1717 migration include surnames such as: Boyer, Funk, Huber, Leman, Miller, Moyer, Nissley, Newcomer, Snider, Stehman, etc.
Thanks to historian Martin Keen for providing information about some of these 1717 migration families, and for locating the image of the Philadelphia harbor.
Other early immigrants to the Lititz area:
Above: ca 1717 map (detail) by N. Visscher, published in Amsterdam: Nova tabula geographica complectens borealiorem Americæ partem.... Library of Congress.
Meanwhile, other early immigrants had been arriving in the Warwick area, including Mennonites and non-Mennonites. The Bombergers and the Hubers were Mennonite settlers who were here by the 1720s. Christian Bomberger was one of the first European immigrants to this community, having emigrated from Germany in 1722. By 1729 Richard Carter had settled near Millport, after emigrating from Warwickshire, England.
The 1730s saw many more arrivals into Warwick Township, including Mennonite families with surnames such as Becker, Bucher, Burkholder, Erb, Gingrich, Musselman, and Steiner (Stoner). Non-Mennonite arrivals here during the 1730s had surnames such as Enck, Grube, Kissel, Leib, Pfautz and others.
John George Kline arrived here ca 1740. The Moravian town of Lititz was named in 1756, and surveyed into lots one year later. The town of Lititz was exclusively Moravian, during its early history, while the farms and villages surrounding the town included a diversity of Mennonites, Brethren, Lutherans, German Reformed, and others.
1716 world map by German cartographer Johann Hohmann:
Above: 1716 map by German cartographer Johann Hohmann, in Grosser Atlas ueber die ganze Welt (Grand Atlas of all the World) Library of Congress.
Celebrations in 2017:
The 300th Anniversary of the 1717 Great Mennonite Migration:
1. The Lancaster Family History Conference: May 16-19, 2017
"New Arrivals in a New Land: A Tribute to our 1717 Immigrant Families"
at the Farm and Home Center, Lancaster.
by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Here.
2. Exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville, PA
And an article in the society's quarterly "The Life and Migration of Dielman Kolb" by Monica Roth
3. Tour of Switzerland and Germany: August 12-24, 2017
300th Anniversary Swiss-German Mennonite Heritage Tour
Led by Historian John Ruth
by TourMagination, Lancaster, PA and Waterloo, Canada, Here.
4. Brubaker Family: "300 Years of Brubakers in North America" August 3-6, 2017
At Millersville University
Includes reunion, Brubaker tours, lectures, and unveiling a 300-year memorial monument, Here.
5. Hershey Family: Reunion and Celebration: September 13-16, 2017
Includes tour of Hershey family sites, a gathering at Manor Brethren in Christ Church, a Milton Hershey birthday party, etc.
Reunion planning committee chairman: Carl Hershey, Here.
6. Hess Family: 300th Celebration: Spontaneous outbursts of revelry throughout the year.