William Penn Helps Family in Pennsylvania

New Land, Home and Voting Rights

After 34 years in colonial America, Johann Peter Schneider Feg’s dream for his family of new land to build a house, to farm, and to become part of a community was finally accomplished. William Penn with religion and governmental principles for individuals helped the family settle on new land in Pennsylvania. In a previous post, we dove into the details of the family move from Schoharie, Province of New York to Tulpehocken Creek Valley near present-day Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania.

Plumpton Manor, Heidelberg Township
New Land for Peter Feg and Family

In this post, we will explore my sixth great grandfather’s new land and home in the Tulpehocken Creek Valley. In addition, the role William Penn played in welcoming early German-speaking settlers and many other immigrant groups to the Province of Pennsylvania. Also, we will answer how Penn established governing principles including voting rights.

Sir William Penn’s Estate Help Create Pennsylvania

The founding of the Colony of Pennsylvania began with a 16,000-pound loan made to King Charles II by Sir William Penn, a British Navy Admiral.  After the Admiral’s death, his son William Penn 1644-1718 approached King Charles for settlement by requesting land in the New World. This land is bounded between Lord Baltimore’s Province of Maryland and the Duke of York’s Province of New York.

The one obstacle the younger Penn had against land approval from the King was his membership and strong beliefs in the Quaker Society.  This religious minority group opposed wars, rejected rituals and oaths, and promoted simple dress and less speech.  English Quakers were persecuted for not attending the Church of England.  The strong relationship developed between Admiral Penn and the Duke of York while fighting for the English forces in the Dutch wars helped King Charles make his decision.

The Charter of Pennsylvania was signed by King Charles II on March 4, 1681, where the new colony was established as a proprietary land granted to William Penn by the King. The Colony was named Pennsylvania in honor of William Penn’s father. Broad provisions of the new Charter included: 1) The boundaries then were the Delaware River on the east, Susquehanna River on the west, the Province of New York on the north, and the Province of Maryland on the south. 2) Assured the people of the new Colony the protection of English laws, and 3)  held leverage over the new Colony that Provincial statutes could be annulled by the King.

William Penn’s Representative Government

The workings of the new colony government in 1681 consisted of a series of new charters, new Colony officials, and a massive effort to divide and distribute thousands of acres of new virgin land for settlement and development of commercial activities.

William Penn had an established reputation as a zealot for the Quaker religious principles through his many essays and numerous trips to prison in England. The major unknown was his skills as a leader of the new colony of Pennsylvania and the management of dividing up approximately 45,000 square miles of mostly undeveloped land.

William Penn Quaker
William Penn Colony of Pennsylvania

New Government with Voting Rights

The Pennsylvania Council made attempts in 1682 to establish an acceptable Frame of Government of Pennsylvania. Key issues were the components of the governing body and the roles of William Penn and the King of England.

Historians note that Penn drafted a Charter of Liberties with the Pennsylvania Legislature for the new colony “creating a political utopia guaranteeing a free and fair trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment and free elections”. 

Next William Penn and Legislature adopted guidelines for the residents of Pennsylvania contained in the Charter of Privileges.  Basic principles include:

  • a colony that permitted religious freedom
  • Separation of church and state
  • the consent and participation of the governed
  • create laws pertaining to property rights
  • recognized the authority of the King and Parliament
  • create a local governing body that would propose and execute the laws
  • Create a tripartite government (assembly, governor, and judiciary)
  • The Assembly to be elected annually by freeman representing each county

The Charter of Liberties was adopted on October 28, 1701, by William Penn and The Pennsylvania Legislature replacing previous attempts for a new government.

The Charter of Liberties plus the Charter of Privileges became the new Constitution of Pennsylvania from 1701 to 1776. Historian Linda A. Ries notes the Charter of Privileges gained respect and admiration in the following decades as a great advancement for representative government. She further notes that the Charter of Privileges governmental principles were part of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other state constitutions.

Voting Rights Pennsylvania

Voting under Penn’s charter of Liberties and Privileges was limited initially only to white men who owned land, paid taxes, and were Christians. In the new Pennsylvania Constitution, voting rights were expanded at the state and local government levels. Yes, voting rights in the Province of Pennsylvania began with William Penn’s representative approach to governing.

The history of voting rights is fraught with much success and setbacks like in the year 2020 Presidential Election. The GOP political party claimed the election was stolen. Numerous federal and state court cases decided that the election for President was conducted fair and in accordance with the best election practices. 

A broad discussion of voting rights is not the intent of this post. A short article from the National Constitution Center, The Evolution of Voting Rights in America, presents an overview of the issues.

Attracting New Immigrants to Pennsylvania

The flow of immigrants to Penn’s new land of opportunity was slow at first.  Penn with his writing skills embarked on a campaign to distribute pamphlets in Europe touting the freedoms found in the province of Pennsylvania.  His marketing campaign worked bringing in large groups of immigrants through the port of Philadelphia. My mother’s ancestors (Witmer) came to Philadelphia in 1727 from Hamburg, Germany.

Additional German immigrants came to the Tulpehocken area through the Philadelphia port. These new settlers were farmers, artisans, and craftsmen helping to grow the local business base by providing new services to the first settlers from the Schoharie Valley.

After William Penn’s death in 1718, the marketing of the Province of Pennsylvania became the responsibility of his heirs, John and Thomas Penn, and their agents. They needed to raise money to keep their proprietary land development efforts in business. Unfortunately, they failed initially to recognize that some of the lands they wanted to package for sale were already occupied by Lenape and Delaware Indians. 

Peace Negotiated with The Indians 

At first, the new European settlers and the Lenape Indians within the larger Iroquois nation were friendly and hospitable with the new settlers in eastern Pennsylvania. The Lenape introduced the growing of maize, beans, squash, and tobacco to the new Settlers. 

My ancestors’, Johann Peter Schneider Feg and family, were already settled in 1724 on land that later legally became Plumpton Manor lot 22 consisting of about 192 acres. The Feg homestead was located near the Tulpehocken Creek south of Charming Forge and north of Womelsdorf.

The Feg family worked the land, built a house and barn, and raised a family of six children. Before they arrived in Tulpehocken, daughter Anna Eve married Conrad Weiser, Jr. Daughters Anna Catharina, Elizabetha, and Anna Margaretha married while living in Plumpton Manor. Likewise, sons Johan Peter and Johan Leonhardt married while living at the homestead. Visit the story of Johann Leonhardt Feg is my 5th great-grandfather.

During the period 1700-1750 thousands of European immigrants arrived in Philadelphia looking to settle on land in eastern Pennsylvania.  This onslaught of land seekers put tremendous pressure on the indigenous Indian populations forcing them off their native lands. The Indians struck back against the early settlers by setting fire to their property and on rare occasions killing whole families.   

Conrad Weiser Indian Peace Negotiator

Conrad Weiser Jr (sixth great uncle) , an established Indian peace negotiator, played a key role in making peace with the Indians. In 1731 Shikellimy, vice-regent of the Iroquois Nation introduced Weiser as an Interpreter to the colonial authorities in Philadelphia. This conference meshed together three individuals that would change the direction of Pennsylvania Indian policy in the following decades.  The group members were James Logan hired by William Penn to be his Secretary, Shikellimy, and Conrad Weiser Jr.

In 1732 Weiser with James Logan and Shikellimy drafted Pennsylvania’s new Indian policy. Under this policy, the purchase of all lands from the Indian nations went exclusively through dealings with the Iroquois Nation. They were deemed the most powerful in the North Atlantic region. Later the Tulpehocken Indian Treaty of 1736 was negotiated which allowed all the early settlers in the Tulpehocken valley to finally get indentured deeds to the land they occupied since 1723. 

This Treaty was extremely important for my sixth great-grandfather Johann Peter Feg and family. The ownership of land in America as promised by Queen Anne in 1709 finally took place in Pennsylvania. Credit goes to the Indian negotiating skills of Conrad Weiser Jr under the mandate of fair dealings with Indians established by William Penn in 1681.

Plumpton Manor Deed Transfer

The foundation for settling legal land disputes was established by William Penn and the Pennsylvania legislature  Charter of Privileges of 1701. This document required all property claims to be submitted to the Courts of Justice.

After land survey and construction of a deed, Johann Peter Feg’s lot in Plumpton Manor consisted of approximately 190 acres located in Heidelberg Township, Lancaster County ( Berks County began in 1752). The Deed B-622b recorded 5, December 1739 showed a payment of 76 pounds for the land.

His 34 year dream of land ownership in America for his family and future heirs occurred in December 1739.  Five years later, Johann Peter Schneider Feg passed away at age 72 on 5 December 1744 in Heidelberg Township, Lancaster County.

Johann Peter Feg Family

My Ancestry family that first settled in America (1710)  and now resettled from Schoharie, province of New York to 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, daughter 1698-1747
  •          Married: John Rieth 1736
  • Anna Eve, daughter 1700-1781
  •           Married: Conrad Weiser, Jr 1722
  • Eva Elisabeth, daughter 1702-1781
  • Elisabetha, daughter 1713-1777
  •            Married: Peter Schaffer 1729
  • Anna Margaretha, daughter 1715-1758
  •            Married: Nicolaus Geiger 1739
  • Johann Peter, son 1720-1790
  •            Married: Christina Karr 1743
  • Johann Leonhardt, son 1717-1758 my 5th great-grandfather
  •           Married: Janige (Johanna) Hussen, 1742

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In addition, you will find compelling stories about my ancestor’s meager start and survival in America. First, in the province of New York, the British officials denied them land promised by Queen Ann.

Next, in the province of Pennsylvania, they found freedom of religion, representative government, and limited voting rights.

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These individuals of integrity help push America to become the United States of America in 1776.

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Copyright © 2018-2021 by Ronald L. Fake. All rights reserved worldwide

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 https://ancestryeuropetoamerica.com.