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JACOB FLURY BERKS COUNTY, PA

INTRODUCTION

     In the classic text by Walter Bunderman, he identified Pierre Fleury as the father of Abraham.  Before his book was written in 1948, Abraham’s father was known to be Jacob.  The introduction of Pierre as the father created a disagreement between descendents that continues to the present time.  Both sides of these issues are discussed in the Jacob Flury section below along with other information about Jacob’s family and life in the early colonial period. 

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JACOB FLURY (ca 1685–aft 1749) AND FAMILY, BALLY, (HEREFORD TOWNSHIP), BERKS COUNTY, PA

      The name of Jacob’s wife is unknown.  Her name may have been Schwartz and she may be a sister to Barbara, the wife of Ulrich Beidler. Michael Swartz may be their brother. Abraham Flury and Michael Swartz were witnesses who confirmed the age of Anna, daughter of Ulrich and Barbara Beidler at the estate settlement of Ulrich Beidler in York County in 1757.  Anna was born in 1728 when all three families lived in Berks County.  Michael Swartz owned property adjoining the Beidler property in Hellam Twp.  

     In 1796 an Adam Schwartz of Reading Twp hired an attorney to make a trip to Germany to receive his portion of the estate of his deceased father John Schwartz who lived at Florsheim in the Alsey district.  Florsheim is near the villages where Jacob and other members of the Flury family lived.  Just after Florsheim is Oberflorsheim, where the Dietrich Schwartz family lived.  He had three daughters. Niederflorsheim is near Florsheim and a Julius Cooper lived there in 1664.  He is probably a relative of Cornelius Cooper, son-in-law of Jacob Flury.  R. W. Davis has included other Schwartz families in his books but not any of the above names or these particular villages.  I am not aware of what names he has on his website (Emigrants, Refugees and Prisoners, Vol. I-III).  Research this area might be productive. 

        The names of three of Jacob's children are known.  Since large families were the norm, they may have had other children, some of whom are still unidentified, and some who died in childhood.  If they had a son who died, he was probably named Ulrich after Jacob’s father and grandfather.       

CHILDREN OF JACOB FLURY 

1. Abraham (1710-1777) and Susanna Neff (abt. 1717-1777).  Two of their children, Isaac (1739) and Jacob (1742) were born in Philadelphia County.      

In 1741 Abraham bought 250 acres of land from Quaker John Wright in what was then Lancaster Co. but later became York County.  The family did not move to York Co. until after Abraham took the oath of allegiance in Philadelphia on April 3, 1743.   

     The move must have been a relief for Susanna to be near her parents and siblings as she was pregnant with their third child in the spring of 1743.  She and her two young boys probably spent time with her parents and family in Manor Twp. when Abraham went to Philadelphia to take the oath and during the transition from Berks County to Springettbury Manor and possibly during the birth of Barbara in August 1743.  Abraham and the Beidler brothers, Ulrich, Peter and Christian, took the oath on the same day.  Ulrich and Peter owned property adjoining the property of Abraham on the west side of the Susquehanna.  They must have been very busy in 1743 with construction and moving.  Susanna’s family lived just south of the towns of Donnervile and Columbia in Lancaster County.  The Neff properties were near Hwy 462 (Great Road) that continued into York County and ran along the front of the property of Abraham and Susanna in Springettbury Manor (now Wrightsville, PA).  Visiting back and forth would be easy except for one having to take Wrights Ferry across the Susquehanna River

2. Anna Elisabetha (Annele) (died 1775).  In a court document in York County dated Jan 17 1759, Anna Elisabetha Cooper renounced her rights to administer the estate of her husband Cornelius Cooper (deceased).  She chose Abraham Flury and Jacob Strickler as administrators.  While Abraham signed his named twice on the document, Annele (nickname) signed an X by her name which was listed as Anna Eliza on the signature line.  Excerpts of the 1759 Cooper estate inventory are listed below:      

Partial Listing: land, two bonds, a still “and what belongs with it.”  Some other items were shoemaker tools, gun, clothing which included a great coat and hat, household furnishings: (chest, bed, stove, books, lamps, table cloths, iron kettle, woman’s ladle and fire tongs, pot and ladle, earthen dishes, kitchen utensils, iron, a pair of skillets and glass bottles) flax and yarn, bees wax, horse creatures, cow and two heifers, hogs, wide variety of farming tools and equipment, produce (clean oats, wheat, beans, onions, dried apples and a capping knife, falon (?), Indian corn and winter grain).  Some other items were not readable.  Total English LBS: 132.4.7.       

      It is not known when Annele moved to Hellam Twp.  She was probably in her late twenties or early thirties in 1743 and may have already married Cornelius Cooper. After the death of her husband Cornelius in 1758, Annele married a man named Reist.  His first name may be John. A John Reist is on the muster rolls for York County along with Abraham’s sons.  He is probably the son or step-son of Annele and a descendent of Hans (John) Reist (b 6 Nov 1636) and Barbara Goots (Good) who were exiled from Switzerland in 1671 (RWD).  Annele died in 1775 and is buried near the grave of her brother Abraham in the Flury Cemetery.       

3. Jacob II.  Official records for Berks County started July 1 1752 when Berks County was carved out of Philadelphia County.  A new township named Maxatawny was created.  Jacob is listed on the Philadelphia County tax list for Jan –Jun 1752 and on the Maxatawny Twp list, Berks County for July-Dec 1752.  Maxatawny is on Hwy 222 (between Reading and Allentown) and is now in Reading County.  He owned no land but was listed under the category of "Single Men.Paying the tax gave him voting rights.  No research has been done in the area where he lived. 

SOLVING A FAMILY MYSTERY

     Another piece of information from Berks County might solve a mystery.  Abraham and Susanna had a son named Lies who died before 1777.  Never able to find anyone in any records named Lies, I thought the name had been mistranslated from their German bible. An article “Churches in Berks County” listed the old Schwarzwald Reformed Cemetery.  Among the names were Louisa Lies and Amos Lies.  The old cemetery was dug up and a plaque was left in remembrance.   

     It is not known if this Schwarzwald cemetery has any connection to the Schwartz family.  It appears that Lies, the 13th child of Abraham and Susanna who was born in 1763, may have been named after a relative in Berks County.  This entire area is an untapped resource. A trip to the archives and history centers in the Berks and Reading area might provide valuable information about Jacob II and other members of the family.   

HISTORY: WILLIAM PENN AND THE MENNONITE CONNECTION   

     English Quaker William Penn made the Mennonite emigration to America attractive.  On a preaching tour in Holland and Germany, he came in contact with Mennonites in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and other places.  Three years later he petitioned King Charles of England for a grant of land in what is now PA in payment of a large debt which the king had owed Penn’s deceased father, Admiral William Penn.  On March 14, 1681 Penn received a royal charter granting him 40,000 square miles of land now called Pennsylvania.  Penn’s agent published Dutch and German pamphlets advertising Penn’s offer.  It raised a great deal of enthusiasm among the German Mennonites and other sects along both sides of the Rhine River.  Then in 1683 Penn granted 6,000 acres of land to Daniel Pastorius, a Pietist of Frankfurt and to a group from Crefeld, Germany who were influenced by Jacob Telner, a Mennonite merchant.  He had visited America and later became one of Penn’s agents.  It is estimated that forty Mennonite families came to Germantown in Philadelphia from 1683-1709 and these families are listed by name and the place they came from in Germany (Source: History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference by J. C. Wenger, 1937).

 THE PLACES WHERE THEY LIVED AND ATTENDED CHURCH 

     The earliest data available of Mennonites holding worship services in a church is in the History of Pennsburg.  It is in the extreme northeastern section of the “Manatant” region, about three miles from Bally.  In 1716 John Henry Sproegel, a Mennonite near present day Pottstown, donated 50 acres for a church to be built for use by a combination of the congregations in the district (Mennonite, Calvinists, Lutheran).   

Town:  Bally is the present day name of the town where the Hereford Mennonite church was located.  The general area was called Butter Valley.  The settlement was first called Gossenhoppen and later Churchville and then Bally.  It was given the name Churchville after several churches located there:  (Mennonite, Reformed, Lutheran and Schwenkfelder).  When the residents applied for a post office in 1860, the town was renamed for the presiding priest of the Catholic Church, Augustin Bally (1837-1882).  Bally is on Hwy 100 about half way between Pottstown and Allentown.          

Township: Gossenhoppen was in Colebrookdale Twp until 1720.  The township was named Washington from 1720-1836.  It became Hereford Twp in 1869.   

County:  It was Philadelphia County until June 30 1752 and became Berks July 1 1752.  Part of Berks County is now in Reading County.          

Hereford Mennonite Church.  This congregation is one of the three oldest permanent Mennonite settlements.   The new church and cemetery was built on the 121 acres of land owned by Ulrich Beidler that he bought from Casper Wistar on March 11 1729.  The log church was built in 1732 with George Bechtel as minister.  The Stauffer and Beidler families were the largest landholders.  (Source:  History of the Hereford Mennonite Congregation, Bally, PA, Amy Histand Gehman, 1936) 

MAKING A LIVING IN COLONIAL BERKS CO 

      Many of the early immigrants to Germantown and to Hereford Twp were linen weavers.  Jacob must have been a weaver as Abraham and his two oldest sons were weavers.  Abraham’s estate inventory revealed 71 yards of linen cloth, three spinning wheels, two looms and five categories of flax.               

They were not all farmer and weavers.  Quakers Thomas Rutter and Thomas Potts began manufacturing iron ore in the “Manatant” region in 1716.  Small iron works were numerous in the early days of Hereford Twp where plowshares, gun barrels, hardware and cutlery were made by hand (Gehman)  

 JACOB AND FAMILY ARRIVED BY SHIP IN 1715   

     The above factual history lends credibility to the claim that Abraham Flury came with his father Jacob and family in 1715 when he was five years old.  Most of the early associates of Jacob and Abraham Flury were in Penn’s colony by 1716.  The ship probably arrived in September 1715 but not necessarily in Philadelphia.  Dr. Fritz Baun (A Century of Emigration from the Palatinate to America) said New York, Boston and Annapolis were some of the ports used by early emigrants to PA.  He said they would have made their way to Germantown and spent the winter there.  In the spring of 1716 they would have located their property, applied for a warrant and received a survey.  Those owning land would then be listed on the 1717 tax list. The 1717 tax list for Chester (now Lancaster Co) was preserved but the one for Philadelphia (Berks) Co was not.   

EARLY MENNONITES OF HEREFORD TWP AND HEMPFIELD TWP 

     The Mennonites of Hereford Twp, Berks Co and Hempfield Twp (earlier Manor Twp) Lancaster CO probably came on the same ship in 1715 as both groups were in their permanent locations by 1716.  There was a close relationship between the two groups that is hard to explain otherwise.  The Hempfield Mennonites were mostly from the Mennonite settlement of Ibersheimmerhof on the east side of the Rhine.  Jacob Flury and others were from Mennonite settlements on the west side of the Rhine.  There was contact and inner-marriage between the two groups in PA even though there was some distance between their two locations.  They attended churches that were in different Mennonite conferences (Franconia and Lancaster).  John Furry, a neighbor of Henry Neff in Hempfield Twp. had a survey of his property conducted June 22 1716.  The 1717 tax list showed both Henry Neff and John Furry.  Those who went to Berks were there by 1716.   

     The following are some of the intermarriages:  Henry Strickler Sr. of Hempfield Twp, Lancaster County married Susanna Stauffer of Hereford Twp, Berks County.  Susanna Stauffer’s family owned property adjoining the Ulrich Beidler property in Hereford Twp. Berks County.  Anna Beidler, daughter of Ulrich Beidler, married Henry Strickler Jr., son of Henry Strickler and Susanna Stauffer of Hempfield Twp.  That also helps to explain how Abraham Flury of Berks County and Susanna Neff of Lancaster County met. 

RELIGIOUS SECTS AND INDIANS LIVING IN HARMONY  

     There is quite a contrast between religious life in Europe in the 17th and 18th century and life in colonial Philadelphia (Berks) County in the late 17th century and the early 18th century.  In Europe the authorities kept tight control over religious beliefs and practices. Severe consequences resulted in disobeying the authorities. In Europe there was not much interaction between the various religious sects.  (See German and Swiss section for details).  In Berks CO the various sects cooperated and got along well.  Other parts of New England had witch hunts and gave severe punishment for minor infractions.  The earliest settlers (Quakers, Dutch and Swiss) were all pacifists and that might explain it.         

     There were 10 Indian tribes with 6,000 members in 1681 when the English Quakers arrived.  The Berks C0 settlers reported favorable relations with the Indians. This is due in large part to Conrad Weiser (1696-1760), the settlers and the local Delaware Indians.  Conrad and his parents landed in New York in 1710 and settled near Womelsdorf in Berks C0).  He learned the Indian language and became an interpreter.  He could communicate their beliefs in God (Great Spirit) to others.  When under the influence of liquors or treated unfairly, the Indians became enraged, fought and acted miserably.       

           In 1742 a meeting of church leaders (Mennonites, Friends, Lutherans, Moravians, German Baptists, Swenkfelders and Separatists) was in progress when three Indians from the Delaware tribe presented themselves for baptism.  Christian Henry Rauch baptized them in Kaufman’s Creek.  They were renamed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They were said to have been immediately filled with the spirit of God and very joyous (Gehman).    

 SEEKING RECORDS OF JACOB FLURY IN GERMANTOWN 

     In 2000, I made email contact with a Mennonite who was in charge of the early immigrant records in Germantown going back to 1683.  He said he had seen the name Jacob Flury in the Germantown files and offered to meet me in Philadelphia if I would contact him at least two weeks in advance.  I was attending a meeting in April in 2002.  Three weeks before my scheduled meeting, I tried to contact him by email.  His email address was no longer valid and all efforts to find him failed.  I had no address or telephone number for him.   While in Philadelphia, I went to the Germantown address.  There was one staff person and two volunteers who had nothing to do with the historical records which were warehoused upstairs.  These old records filled two complete rooms and were kept in file cabinets and in boxes stacked on shelves reaching to the ceiling.  That area was used only for scheduled meetings and appointments had to be made in advance.  She could not remember the name of the man in charge and tried to find his name and phone number in the files without success.  He lived outside Philadelphia in a nearby town where he taught something.          

BOOKS THAT LIST OTHERS AS THE FATHER OF ABRAHAM

      No one would question the name Jacob except for two published books that incorrectly named the father of Abraham.   

JOHN FORRY:  John Forrer//Forry/Furry is identified by John F. Murray in the 1991 NEFF NAF FAMILY as being the father of Abraham Flury based on circumstantial evidence.  He surmised that John Furry a neighbor of Henry Neff of Hempfield Twp, Lancaster Co, father of Susanna must be the father of Abraham Flury.  The Furry and Neff family were neighbors in Hempfield Twp and had been since about 1716.  Henry Neff II, (Susanna’s brother) was a witness to the John Furry will.  John Furry also had a son named Abraham.  John Furry bought land in Hellam Twp in York County near Abraham and Susanna Flury.  Mr. Murray concluded that Abraham Flury was the son of John Furry.  The authors have since acknowledged the error.  The book is well written with pictures and illustrations that portray the Naf/Neff family in Switzerland, Germany and Lancaster PA.           

PIERRE FLEURY: Walter Q. Bunderman (FL0RY, FLORA, FLEURY).   

       Mr. Bunderman made a mistake in identifying Pierre as the father of Abraham Flury.  What should be remembered is that his books provided a wealth of information about the family: names, birth dates, marriages, courthouse land and estate records, militia records, etc.  This enables descendents today to access those same records and obtain valuable information.  I am grateful to him as it has given me access to information I would not have otherwise.    

     Unfortunately his book also misled descendents who were the most interested in their family history.  One descendent spent years having genealogists search for Pierre Fleury in the US and in Europe without success.   Some have written their own genealogy based on Pierre Fleury and placed it in archives and libraries. Others have heard of the controversy and don’t have access to the out-of-print book.  They would like to know what the book said.  For their benefit, the following is provided.     

      In 1948 Walter Bunderman wrote a book about families that he believed had Huguenot ancestry even though they were from Germany.  One of those three immigrants was Pece/Perce Flewies (Pierre Fleury) who arrived in 1732.  Mr. Bunderman believed that Abraham Flury who took an oath in 1743 was his son.       

     Mr. Bunderman would not accept it when the Flury family told him Jacob was their earliest immigrant ancestor.  He dismissed it, saying they probably had him confused with Jacob who was about five years old when he came with his parents to Rapho Twp, Lancaster Co in 1733. Bunderman quote   (p. 9):  “Many family legends are disproved by legal records.  For instance, the York Florys thought their ancestor was Jacob, but the courthouse records definitely proved it to be Abraham.”  Mr. Bunderman attributed the following statement to Mr. Frank Flory: “Jacob Flory with his parents came to America at the age of five years in 1715.”  The statement above is not what was distributed at family reunions.  That statement said “Abraham came to America with his parents in 1715 at the age of five.”  Frank Flory (then age 79) had been the family historian for many years.  As stated before, Abraham’s old German Bible said his father was Jacob.          

     The statements Mr. Bunderman made on pages 233-234 are also incorrect.  He offered the following “proof” that Pierre was the father:   

(1) Bunderman:  No other immigrant carried the Fleury name through the ship lists and county records except Pierre Fleury.  Reply: A Pierre and Sarah Fleury baptized two sons at Christ Church (Anglican) in Philadelphia in the 1730's.  He was most likely a Huguenot who fled to London and then came to Philadelphia. I believe his sons were named Benjamin and Andrew.  This Pierre Fleury may have come to Philadelphia prior to 1727.  I do not believe that Pierre Fleury is the Perce Flewries who came in 1732.  A thorough search for Pierre Fleury and/or Pece or Perce Flewries was made in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Lancaster County and York County.  Other than Pierre and Sarah of the City of Philadelphia, no such individual was found.  The spelling of his name is more similar to Belgian and Dutch names.  The ships that came to Pennsylvania were from Rotterdam and their operators spoke the low German dialect.  Those in the middle of Germany spoke middle German.  The Swiss spoke the High German dialect.  The ship record is the most accurate for the name of the incoming immigrant. The name on the Oath of Allegiance is how the English official thought the name should be written on official English documents.

(2) B:  Pierre Fleury settled in York County in 1738.  Reply:  Pierre Fleury is not on any York County record.  Abraham lived in Berks Co. until 1743.     

(3). B: Abraham was probably under 15 years of age in 1732 and that is why he took the oath in 1743.  Reply:  Abraham was age 22 in 1732.  April 3, 1743 was a special occasion for men who entered the country before 1727 to take the oath so their children could inherit their land.       

(4) B:  Abraham’s first land grant in 1751 spelled the name Fleuree.  Reply:  That is how English officials wrote it, not Abraham.      

(5) B: Abraham’s grave marker spells the name Flury. Reply:  Flury is the Swiss spelling.  

(6) B: Susan Flory Kauffman (b. 1834) says the family is of Huguenot origin.  Reply:  Susan Flory Kauffman’s ancestors call themselves Mennonites: (a) Genealogy and History of the Kauffman-Coffman Families of North America 1584-1937 (Published in York Co).  Abraham Flury and Susanna Neff are also in that book.  Just after WW I and II no one wanted to be German.  America loved their French allies.    

(7) B:  Of the thousands of Florys in this family history only those of York County use the spelling Flury, Fleurie, Fluerrie, Fleury and Flory.  On the basis of this evidence, Abraham is considered the son of Pierre in this book.  Reply:  Abraham Flury and his children wrote their name in Swiss German with an umlaut.  No one in the family ever used the Fleury spelling.     

 

 

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