Pennsylvania New Home for My Ancestors 1723-1724

New Home for Johann Peter Schneider-Feg and Family

We are working on the fourth new home for my ancestor family in colonial Pennsylvania

. A quick overview will serve to provide continuity for their American journeys. First, they made the enormous sailing cruise across the Atlantic in 6 months from London to Nutten Island ( today Governors Island located at the Southern tip of NYC ) for a one year quarantine. My ancestor relatives were very fortunate to survive this hurdle where diseases were rampant.

Their second home was at West Camp about 100 miles north of NYC on the Hudson River. Here, Queen Anne of England promised each German Palatinate that was the head of household  40 acres of land to build a home, farm and raise a family. The colony of New York and English politic squashed these arrangements.

The third attempt at a land deal from Queen Anne was sought with some 40-50 families making a tough Winter sled trip to Schoharie Valley. This area is located about 60 miles northwest of  West Camp.  Here they settled on land that had title issues from the very beginning. My ancestors and others cleared land, built houses and farmed land that they thought the Queen controlled. This time they were given options- buy, lease or move.  Some stayed and many sought other land and settlement opportunities in the Colony of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Provincial Governor Keith reaches an agreement for land with my German ancestors in the Tulpehocken Area. The first group of German settlers from Schoharie settled near the intersection of the Tulpehocken Creek and the Mill Creek near the present-day Boro of Womelsdorf. Today this location is near Route 422 and about 10 miles west of Reading, Pensylvania. The city of Philadelphia is located about 70 miles southeast of the Tulpehocken area.

Provincial Governor Welcomes Ancestors to Pennsylvania

Provincial Governor William Keith meets Colony of New York Governor Burnett in 1722 at an Albany Indian Council.  Keith hearing the plight of the Schoharie  Palatines offered them the opportunity to settle in the Colony of Pennsylvania. Their main concerns were acquiring larger land settlements to sustain their families, more religious freedom and relief from government intrusions.

The Province of Pennsylvania was set up as a provincial government in North America by William Penn on March 4, 1681. Its Charter was dictated by King Charles II. The proprietary colony’s charter remained in the control of the Penn family until the American Revolution. After this event, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was created and became one of the thirteen original colonies. Whereas in the Colony of New York the English King or Queen held control over all local activities relating to the German Palatine settlers in Schoharie Valley.

In the following months after the Albany Indian Council, fifteen heads of Schoharie families sent a petition to Governor Keith and the assembly of Pennsylvania requesting permission to settle in Pennsylvania. In their petition, the main concerns were acquiring larger land settlements to sustain their families and more freedom from government intrusions. Governor Keith came through for the petitioners by allowing them to settle in the Tulpehocken ( land of turtles) Valley near the base of the Blue Mountains( near present-day Reading, PA.).

Journey to the Tulpehocken Area

Today a move from one location to another is a big undertaking. So let’s explore the job of planning to move 15 families in 1723 from Schoharie, NY to Womelsdorf, PA, near Reading an estimated distance of 350 miles.  Historians have suggested that a scouting party consisting of Conrad Weiser, Jr, Indian guides and a few Palatine Germans from Schoharie visited the Tulpehocken Creek Area before 1723.

Weiser at the age of 17 left his home in the Colony of New York to live with the Maqua (Iroquois) for about 8 months to learn their ways and language. He quickly established a reputation as a peace negotiator between the English, German, French and various Indian nations in the Colony of New York and later in the Colony of Pennsylvania.

A few historians had identified Weiser as of the leader of the expedition to Pennsylvania. However, Weiser arrived in 1729 per Tulpehocken tax records. His wife (my 6th great aunt) and children more than likely traveled with relatives to Tulpehocken. They used an overland route described later in this article.

The 15 families planned to leave in early Spring 1723, maybe a little chilly, damp from the rain with a little ice floating on the river. It has been determined the best route is to canoe down the Susquehanna River to the Swatara Creek about 5 miles south of Harrisburg, PA. From here we need to travel about 50 miles east to the Tulpehocken Creek area (Womelsdorf, Pa.).

They are planning minimal provisions for about 70 family members of almost all ages. Thinking out loud here is a list of considerations:

  • Selecting an area to begin the water journey down the Susquehanna River to just below Harrisburg, PA. (distance 300 miles)
  • Construction of maybe 15-20 canoes. No shortage of lumber, trees are everywhere.
  • How many days until arrival at the new settlement area in Tulpehocken Valley? Today we would arrive by auto in about 5 hours.
  • Yes, we will need some clothing. In this time period, animal skins were in style. No sheep and no yarn to make clothing.
  • Shoes were most likely similar to the Indian moccasins with wooden soles.
  • What type of food provisions to bring along? Maybe dried corn and grains. Cured Meats? Plenty of fresh fish from the River.
  • Stock minimal pots and pans for cooking.
  • Sleeping as early historians noted was most likely by the family under a big tree listening to the sounds of the night.
  • One big issue! How do we move our valuable livestock- horses, cows?

About 100 years after the historic trip down the Susquehanna River the first story of the 1723  journey was from  Judge John H. Brown. His article, Brief Sketch of the Settlement by the Germans, reports with information from Schoharie residents that “they made canoes, so navigated their families down by water: their cattle followed by land all along the shore, until they arrived in Pennsylvania at a place called Tolpelrahen” (today Tulpehocken).

There are several issues with Judge Brown’s brief description of events. The major issue is how did the valuable cattle and horses get from Schoharie area to Tulpehocken.

Another historian Paul B. Mattice in his 1944 article “The Palatine Emigration from Schoharie to the Tulpehocken” makes several important points against the Susquehanna River route for the livestock. They include:

  • No consistent flat physical space along the river banks to drive the herd of animals.
  • The speed of the animals would be much slower than the canoes.
  • Families could not handle delays from slower animals.

The most likely route for the cattle and horses was presented by Frank E. Lichtenthaeler’s article, “They Drove Their Cattle Overland,” found in the Historical Review of Berks County, July 1940. His route has the cattle and horses following the west branch of the Delaware River from Schoharie to the Delaware Water Gap. From this point, they would use well established Indian trails to the Tulpehocken area.

Tulpehocken Creek, Pennsylvania
Tulpehocken Creek in April 2019

My ancestry family, Johann Peter Schneider Feg, and family most likely used the above-described cattle route in their journey to Tulpehocken Creek area.  They and other German Palatine families made the journey after 1723 and before 1725. My family appears on the Tulpehocken Township tax assessment( January 10th, 1725).

The 15 families that canoed down the Susquehanna River and made their way overland via the Swatara Creek arriving in the Tulpehocken Creek area in early May 1723. They discovered green pastures aside a fairly large Tulpehochen stream about 36 miles in length.

Historian Lichtenthaeler writes in his assessment of their arrival to the new found land…”Here, at last, would they purchase land and found their home, so, as they themselves expressed their inciting desire, that, our children may have some settlement to depend on hereafter.”

My Ancestry family that settled in the Tulpehocken Valley, Colony of Pennsylvania  in 1723-1724:

  • Johann Peter Schneider Feg 1672-1744 (6th great-grandfather)
  • His wife Anna Maria Risch 1681-
  • Anna Catharine 1698-1747
  • Anna Eve, daughter 1700-1781                Married: Conrad Weiser, Jr 1722
  • Eva Elisabeth, daughter 1702-1781
  • Elisabetha, daughter 1713-1777
  • Anna Margaretha, daughter 1715-1758
  • Johann Peter 1720-1790
  • Johann Leonhardt, son 1717-1758
  • Johann Leonhardt  is my 5th great-grandfather

Last updated May  19, 2019


Next Post: Resettlement in Tulpehocken

The next Ancestry Journey story discusses the first land settlement in Pennsylvania where a deed is used to make the transaction to Johann Peter Feg (Feck). At the top of the list of things to do is build a new home, cultivate the land and build a community church. Follow my ancestor’s rewarding next story by signing up to receive an email announcement when the story is posted. Sign up form found in the far right column.

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Ronald L. Fake

Pennsylvania native from York County. After graduating from Wrightsville High School enlisted in U.S. Navy. While in the Navy working in the field of Aviation Electronics decided to enroll in college. Selected San Diego State University with a focus on urban geography and environmental studies. After graduation in 1968 worked with county and state governments, and private industry on the environmental impacts of transportation projects. After retirement started my ancestry research and today I am writing that history as a blog at