Lancaster County
Early Settlers
    Many foreigners had, prior to the issuing of Anne's proclamation, determined to seek refuge in America.  "The Canton of Bern, in Switzerland, had employed Christopher de Graffenried and Lewis Mitchel or Michelle, as pioneers, with instructions to search for vacant lands in Pennsylvania, Virginia or Carolina.  One of these, Michelle, a Swiss miner, had been in America, prior to 1704 or 1705, traversing the country to seek out "a convenient tract to settle a colony of their people on."  He was among the Indians in and about Conestogo during 1706 and 1707, "in search of some mineral or ore," and "it is believed, he and his associates built a fort not far from Connejaghera, many miles above Conestogo."
    In the year 1707 a few Quaker pioneers settled in Kennet, Chester county.  Among others were Vincent Caldwell, Thomas Wickersham, Joel Bailey, Thomas Hope and Guyan Miller.
    No actual settlements had been made prior to 1708 or 1709 in Lancaster county; but a few whites had abodes among the Indians on the Susquehanna.  These were Indians traders and all Frenchmen.  Their names-Bezalion, Chartier, Jessop and Le Tort.  Chartier had, prior to 1704, lived long among the Shawanah Indians, and upon the Susquehanna.
    Of the above Indian traders, Bezalion was the only one licensed.
    About the year 1706 or 1707, a number of the persecuted Swiss Mennonites went to England, and made a particular agreement with the Honorable Proprietor, William Penn, at London, for lands to be taken up.  Several families, from the Palatinate, descendants of the distressed Swiss, emigrated to America and settled in Lancaster county in the year 1709.
    The traditions, respecting the first visit to the place of subsequent settlement, are discrepant.  From public documents and some private papers in the possession of Abraham Meylin, and others, residing in West Lampeter township, we may confidently state that the Mennonites commenced a settlement in 1709 or 1710, at the place where the Herrs and Meylins now reside, near Willow Street.
    A Swiss company , to emigrate to America, and settle in the wilderness, had been organized, but who the projector of it was, we cannot state.  The pioneers were Hans Meylin, his son Martin, and John Hans Herr, John Rudolph Buddely, Martin Kendig, Jacob Miller, Martin Oborholtz, Wendel Bowman and others, who came to Conestogo in 1709, selected a tract of ten thousand acres of land on the north side of Pequea creek, and shortly afterwards, procured a warrant for the same.  It is dated October 10, 1710-the warrant was recorded, and the land surveyed, the 23d of the same month.  The 27th of April, 1711, the Surveyor General, at the request of the first purchasers, subdivided the said ten thousand acres, "into so many parts as they had previously agreed upon."
    It appears from tradition and other corroborating testimony, that in virtue of the agreement with William Penn, and by permission of the Deputy governor, Hon. Charles Gookin, they commenced making improvements before a warrant had been issued, and that while some were felling trees, removing underbrush, building cabins, others went to Philadelphia to obtain a warrant for their choice tract of woods.  The following documents strengthen the tradition to be correct in the main facts:
    "By the commissioners of property-Whereas we have agreed with John Rudolph Bundely, Martin Kendig, Jacob Miller, Hans Herr, Martin Oberholtz, Hans Funk, Michael Oberholtz and one Wendel Bowman, Swissers, lately arrived in the Province for ten thousand acres of land, situate on the northwesterly side of a hill, about twenty miles easterly from Connystogoe, near the head of Pecquin creek, for which said land, they are to pay the sum of five hundred pounds, sterling money of Great Britain, in manner following: that is to say, the sum of one hundred pounds , part thereof in hands, at ye issuing of these presents, the sum of one hundred pounds more thereof (together with forty-eight pounds like money, being the interest of four hundred pounds for two years) at the end of two years and six months, from the time of the survey of the said lands, (one-half year's interest of the whole being abated), one hundred and eighteen pounds further, part thereof with interest, included within one year, then next after one hundred and twelve pounds (the interest being included) further part thereof, within one year, then next after, the sum of one hundred and six pounds full residue thereof, that of all interest for the same, within one year, that next following, so that the said five hundred pounds and interest, as aforesaid, is to be paid in six years next after the time of survey.  And also that the said purchasers, their heirs and assigns, shall pay unto the proprietary and Governor, William Penn, his heirs and assigns, the sum of one shilling sterling aforesaid, quit-rent yearly forever, for every hundred acres of the said ten thousand acres of land, and that said purchasers shall have said lands free of quit-rent for the two first years next after the survey thereof, and the said purchasers requesting of us a warrant for the location and survey of the said land aforesaid.  These are, therefore, to authorize and require thee to survey or cause to be surveyed, unto the said purchasers, the full quantity of ten thousand acres of land (with reasonable allowance for roads and highways) in one entire tract, at or near the place aforesaid and subdivide the same (if they request it) into so many small tracts or parts as they shall agree or appoint to each of them his respective share to be holden by the purchasers, their heirs and assigns, under the rents, payments and agreements aforesaid, subject to distress for the said rent in case of non-payment; and of thy transactions and doings in the premises, by virtue of these presents thou art to make such returns into the Secretary's office, with all reasonable expedition.  Given under our hands and seals of the province, the tenth day of the eighth month at Philadelphia, A.D. 1710.
                                                                                                                                            Edward Shippen
                                                                                                                                            Griffeth Owen
                                                                                                                                            Thos. Story
"To Jacob Baylor, Surveyor General.
"Warrant Book, 1700-1714, p 229.
    On the 23d of October, the land was surveyed and divided among the Meylins, Herrs, Kendigs and others of the company.
    By warrant, dated July 5, 1712, there were surveyed, November 1, 1712, Pequea, now Strasburg township, for Amos Strettle, 3380 acres, who afterwards sold it in smaller tracts; the principal persons to whom he sold prior to 1734, were Henry Shank, Ulrich Brackbill, Augustine Widower, Alexander Fridley, Martin Miller, George Snavely, Christian Musser, Andrew Shultz, John Fouts, Jacob Stein, John Hickman, John Bowman, Valentine Miller, Jacob Hain, John Herr, Henry Carpenter, Daniel Ferree, Isaac Lefevere, Christian Stoner, John Beiers, Hans Lein, Abraham Smith, John Jacob Hoover, Septimus Robinson, Samuel Hess, Samuel Boyer, John Musgrove.
    The Mennonite settlers having determined to send for their friends in Europe, a council of the whole society was called, at which their venerable minister and pastor, Hans Herr, presided, and after fraternal and free interchange of sentiment, much consolation and serious reflection, lots, in conformity to the custom of the Mennonites, were cast, to decide who should return to Europe for the families left behind and others.  The lot fell upon Hans Herr, who had left five sons, Christian, Emanuel, John, Abraham and one whose name we have not learned.  This decision was agreeable to his own mind; but to his friends and charge it was unacceptable; to be separated von ihrem prediger,  from their preacher, could be borne with reluctance and heaviness of heart only.  They were all too ardently attached to him to cheerfully acquiesce in this determination.  Reluctantly they consented to his departure-after much anxiety manifested on account of this unexpected call of their pastor from them.   Their sorrows were alleviated by a proposal made on the part of Martin Kendig, that, if approved, he would take Hans Herr's place-this was cordially assented to by all.  Without unnecessary delay, Martin, the devoted friend of the colony, made ready-went to Philadelphia, and there embarked for Europe; after a prosperous voyage of five or six weeks, he reached the home of his friends, where he was received with apostolic greetings and salutations of joy.  Having  spent some time in preliminary arrangements, he and a company of Swiss and some Germans, bade a lasting adieu to their old homes, and dissolved the tender ties of friendship with those whom they left.  With his company, consisting of the residue of some of those in America, and of Peter Yordea, Jacob Miller, Hans Tschantz, Henry Funk, John Houser, John Bachman, Jacob Weber, Schlegel, Venerick, Guldin, and others, he returned to the new home, where they were all cordially embraced by their fathers and friends.
    At a meeting of the commissioners, Sept. 10, 1712-the late commissioners having granted 10,000 acres of land to the Palatines, by their warrant dated 6th, 8th, 1710, in pursuance thereof there was laid out to Martin Kendig, besides the 2,000 acres already confirmed and paid for, the like quantity of 2,000 acres, towards Susquehanna, of which the general Surveyor has made a return.  The said Martin Kendig now appearing desirous that the said land may be granted and confirmed to Maria Warenbuer, for whom the same was taken up, or intended, and who is to pay the consideration of it.  But upon further consideration of the matter, it is agreed among themselves that the said land shall be confirmed to Daniel Fire and Isaac Lefevre, two of the said widow's sons, and the consideration money, viz: £140 at £7 per 100 acres, by agreement having been for some time due, but is now to be paid down in one sum.  "Tis agreed-that they shall only pay £10 for interest, that is £150 for the whole."
    "The said Martin Kendig now (Sept. 10, 1712) appearing desirous that the said (2000 acres) land may be granted and confirmed to Maria Warenbuer, for whom the same was taken up or intended, &c."
    This tract was then in Chester county, Conestoga township, now East Strasburg, in this county.  It composed the farms now (1844) owned by Henry A Carpenter, Ferre Brinton, John C. Lefevere, Joseph L. Lefevere, Jacob Hershey, Christian Leman, Henry and Jacob Brackbill, Theo. Sherts, Isaac B. Burrowes, Jacob Eshelman, Christian Hershey, Messrs. Witmer, R. Conyngham, Esq., R. Taggart, Philip Foster, Henry Shertz, John Shertz, F. S. Burrowes, D. Lefevre.
    In 1713, Christopher Schlegel, late of Saxony, took up with a view to settle, though he afterwards transferred his interest in his tract of one thousand acres, to others-this land is on a stream flowing into the Conestoga, "not far from the land granted to the Palatines."  It was afterwards the place where the Cartlidges, Indian agents, resided.  Another person, Benedictus Venerick, late of Germany, took up two hundred acres, near the Palatines, in 1715.  Between the Pequea and Conestoga creeks, near the Susquehanna, Richard Carter, an Englishman, a wheel-wright, located and improved two hundred acres, in 1716.  The same year, Alexander Bews, took up four hundred acres on the south side of the Conestoga; Anthony Pretter, of East Jersey, three hundred acres, near Pequea, on south side of Conestoga: and John Gardiner, Jr., from Philadelphia county, two hundred acres, on the same side of Conestoga.  About this time, Jacob Greider, or Kreider, Jacob Hostater, Hans Frantz, Schenk, and others settled on the banks of Conestoga; Joseph Cloud, in 1717, took up 500 acres near Pequea creek.  the same year, settlements were begun on the banks of Octoraro, on the Octoraro; his neighbors were Cooksons, Mayes, Jervis, Irwins, and some years afterwards, the Pattersons, Darbys, Mackrels, Leonards, Jones, Steels, Matthews, Cowens, Murrays, Millers, Allisons, Mitchels, and others, all of whom settled on or near Octoraro.
    The Swiss settlement received an augmentation in 1715-16 and 17; besides those already named, were Hans Mayer, Hans Kaigy, Christian Hearsey,  HANS GRAAF , (who afterwards settled Graff's Thal) Hans Pupather, Michael Shank, Henry Pare, Peter Leman, Melchoir Breneman, Benedictus Witmer, Henry Funk, Jacob Landis, Ulrich Houry, Hans Faber, Isaac Coffman, Melchoir Erisman, Michael Miller, Jacob Kreutzer, Jacob Boehm, Theodorus Eby, Michael Donegar, and others. ......
    During the year 1727, more than a thousand Palatines arrived in Pennsylvania; among these were the names of Diffenderfer, Ekman, Meyer, Bowman, Eberlee, Zug, Shultze, Funk, Frantz, and others.  Two brothers, Alexander and John Diffenderfer, sailed from Rotterdam, arrived at Philadelphia in the month of September; Alexander settled in Oley, now Berks county, and John as Säue Schwamm, now New Holland, in the woods.

Authentic History of Lancaster County
by J I Mombert (1869)

© Brenda Creasy