Johann Conrad Weiser

Johann Conrad WEISER Sr. (1662 – 1746) (Wikipedia) was a German soldier, baker, and farmer who fled his homeland with thousands of other German Palatines and settled in New York. Weiser became a leader in the Palatine community and was founder of their settlement of Weiser’s Dorf, now known as Middleburgh, New York. When the Germans were in dispute with their English landlords and the colonial government of New York, he was among the representatives chosen to go to London and seek help from the British government. This contributed to the downfall of the governorship of Robert Hunter.  He was Alex’s 9th Grandfather; one of 1,024 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Johann Conrad Weiser was born in 1662 in Großaspach, Württemberg, Holy Roman Empire. His parents were Jacob WEISER and Anna TREFTZ.   He married Anna Magdalena UEBELE in 1686 in Germany. After Anna died, he married Anna Margaret Müller in 1711 in Schoharie, Schoharie, New York.  Johann died May 1746 in Womelsdorf, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Weiser fought during the Nine Years’ War and served as a Corporal in the military. He was a member of the Württemberg Blue Dragoons, and was stationed at Affstätt, Herrenberg, Württemberg in the 1690s. Soon after the birth of Conrad Jr., the Weisers moved back to their ancestral home of Großaspach. Afterward, he followed the trade of a baker. 

Weiser and his family were German Palatines who fled Germany because of the destruction of crops by invading French armies, and the icy cold winter of 1708-09.

Anna Magdalena Uebele was born 1666 in Großaspach, Germany. Her parents were Hanna Johannas UEBELE and Anna Catherine [__?__]. Anna  died suddenly of an attack of the gout while pregnant with their fifteenth child on May 1, 1709.  Conrad Weiser  wrote for his children, “Buried beside Her Ancestors, she was a god-fearing woman and much loved by Her neighbors. Her motto was Jesus I live for thee, I die for thee, thine am I in life and death.”

On June 24, 1709, Weiser and eight children, moved away from Großaspach.   The Weisers, along with over 15,000 other Palatines, left their homeland and traveled west to the Rhine River, and then down the Rhine into the Netherlands. As the number of German refugees increased, the Dutch decided to send them to England. In late summer 1709, the Weisers arrived in London, along with thousands of other Germans.

Anna Margaret Müller was born in 1680 in Germany. His children disapproved of the marriage, as Conrad Jr. writes, “It was an unhappy match, and was the cause of my brothers and sisters’ all becoming scattered.”

Children of Johann Conrad and Anna Magdalena:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Maria Catharina Weiser 1686
Großaspach
Germany
Hans Conrad Boss
19 May 1705
Großaspach  Württemberg, Germany
25 Feb 1761
Grossapach, Germany
2. Anna Margarete Weiser 1689
Großaspach
Germany
Oct 1748
New Jersey
3. Anna Magdalena WEISER 1692
Großaspach, Bocknang, Württemberg, Germany
Jan Johannes DeLONG
1690 Rochester, Ulster, New York
1760
Rochester, Ulster, NY
4. Maria Sabina Weiser 1694
Großaspach
Germany
1739 America
5. John Frederick Weiser 27 Feb 1705
Großaspach
Germany
Dec 1711
Livingston Manor, New York
6. John Conrad Weiser (Wikipedia) 2 Nov 1696
Affstätt
Herrenberg,
the Duchy of
Württemberg
Anna Eva Feg (Feck)
22 Nov 1720 Schoharie, New York
13 Jul 1760
Womelsdorf, Berks, Pennsylvania,
7. George Frederick Weiser 1697
Großaspach
Germany
Sarah Scudder
Smithtown,NY
.
Rebecca Udall
31 Dec 1729 Suffolk, New York
 1764
Smithtown, Long Island, New York,
8. Christopher Weiser 24 Feb 1699
Großaspach
Germany
Maria Catharine Roeder
29 Jul 1762 Emmaus, Lehigh, Pennsylvania
16 Jun 1768
Emmaus, Pennsylvania
9. Anna Barbara Weiser 17 Oct 1700
Großaspach
Germany
Nicholas Pickard
1722 Schenectady, Schenectady, New York
1750
New York
10. Rebecca Weiser 6 Jun 1703
Großaspach
Germany
8 Jun 1704
Großaspach, Württemberg, Germany
11. Erhard Frederick Weiser 11 Jun 1706
Großaspach
Germany
29 Nov 1707
Großaspach, Württemberg, Germany

.
Children of Johann Conrad and Anna Margaret Miller:

Name Born Married Departed
12. Jacob Weiser 1708
New York
Anna Eva Batdorf
13. Rebecca Weiser 1713
Schoharie, Schoharie, New York
Frederick Klein
1733
Greene, New York
 New York
14. John Frederick Weiser 14 Nov 1714
Schoharie, Schoharie, New York
Leana Catherine Henrich
19 Apr 1738 Loonenburg, Greene, New York
2 Sep 1769
Swatara, Lebanon, Pennsylvania

The Great Frost (as it was known in England) or Le Grand Hiver (as it was known in France) was an extraordinarily cold winter in Europe in late 1708 and early 1709,  and was found to be the coldest European winter during the past 500 years. France and the Palatine were  particularly hard hit by the winter, with the subsequent famine estimated to have caused 600,000 deaths by the end of 1710.  Climate scientists don’t know what caused this event, but it was recorded that

  • Chickens’ combs froze solid and fell off.
  • Major bodies of water like lakes, rivers and the Baltic sea froze solid or froze over.
  • Soil froze to a depth of a meter.
  • Livestock died frozen in barns.
  • Trees exploded from the extreme cold.
  • Sailors aboard English naval vessels out at sea died from the cold.
  • Fish froze in rivers, game died in the fields, and small birds died by the millions.
  • Herbs and exotic fruit trees died, as did hardy oak and ash trees.
  • The wheat crop failed.
  • People went to bed and woke to find their nightcaps frozen to the bedstead.
  • Bread froze so hard it took an axe to cut it.

The Winter of 1709/10 was the coldest in Europe in 500 years Le lagon gelé en 1708, by Gabriele Bella, a lagoon which froze over in 1708, Venice, Italy.


Queen Anne of Great Britain
 was sympathetic toward the German Palatines, and allowed them to stay in England. However, as their numbers grew, the Board of Trade and Plantations prepared a plan to send them to America, where the Crown promised them free land after they worked off their passage by producing naval stores. The Weisers remained in England for a few months. They left England December of 1709 on the Lyon, one of ten ships carrying 2,800 people to America, including Weiser and his family. The Lyon arrived in New York on June 13, 1710.

The 2,400 who survived the voyage to New York—more than half the number of people in Manhattan at the time—were at first confined in the harbor, by typhus, to what is now called Governor’s Island.  After the disease ran its course, the surviving refugees were taken up the Hudson River to Livingstone’s manor a 160,000 acre  tract of land granted to Robert Livingston the Elder through the influence of Governor Thomas Dongan, and confirmed by royal charter of George I of Great Britain in 1715, or as it was called by the Germans Lowenstein’s Manor.

Life in the New York colony

Despite being promised free land, the Germans were required to work for several years to pay for their transportation expenses. The Germans were also forced to pay rent for their property. The Germans were divided into five camps, and Weiser was appointed to be in charge of one.  England was at the time having trouble obtaining the Swedish pitch and tar needed to keep the English fleet seaworthy. The Germans were to grow hemp and produce tar from the trees, but they were unsuitable. Weiser took the Germans’ complaints to governor Robert Hunter. In 1711, the English conscripted German Palatines to fight the French in northern New York. Weiser served as a captain in one of the Palatine contingents. Upon their return, the Palatines discovered that their families had nearly starved in their absence. Again, Weiser led the Palatines in complaining to Governor Hunter. 

In 1711, Weiser remarried to Anna Margaretha Müller. His children disapproved of the marriage, as Conrad Jr. writes, “It was an unhappy match, and was the cause of my brothers and sisters’ all becoming scattered.” 

In the fall of 1713, Weiser and his family reached Schenectady. They stayed at the home of John Meyndert during the winter of 1713-14. The Mohawk, part of the Iroquois Confederacy, helped the German Palatines throughout the winter, in which they earned their trust. After negotiating with the Mohawk, the Germans were given permission to move further west in the valley. In the spring of 1714, with the help of Mohawk Indian guides, Weiser led his family, along with about 150 other families to Schoharie, located 40 miles  west of Albany.

Today, 1000 people live in Schoharie Village, the name is a native word for driftwood. Due to Hurricane Irene in August 2011 the Village experienced a 500-year flood which inundated large portions of the Village with up to 7 feet of water.

Map of New York highlighting Schoharie County

Schoharie County, New York

At this time, a Maqua chief named Quaynant visited Weiser, and suggested that his son, the younger Conrad, go with him and learn the Maqua language, and he did. The Germans who settled here were very poor to start out with. At Schoharie, they grew corn, potatoes, and ground beans to get through the following year. Life was harsh, and families sometimes went two or three days without food.

Conrad Weiser Jr wrote

In the spring my father removed from Schenectady to Schochary, with about 150 families in great poverty. One borrowed a horse here, another there, also a cow and plow harnesses. With these things they united and broke up jointly so much land that they raised nearly enough corn for their own consumption the following year. But this year they suffered much from hunger, and made many meals on the wild potatoes and ground beans which grew in great abundance at that place. The Indians called the potatoes Ochna-nada, the grounds beans Otach-ragara. When we wished for meal, we had to travel 35 to 40 miles to get it, and had then to borrow it on credit. They would get a bushel of wheat here, a couple at another place, and were often absent from home three or four days before they could reach their suffering wives and children crying for bread.

The people had settled in villages, of which there were seven. The first and nearest, Schenectady, was called Kneskern-dorf 2. Gerlacho-dorf; 3. Fuchsen-dorf; 4. Hans George Schmidts-dorf; 5. Weisers-dorf, or Brunnen-dorf [now Schoharie Village,]; 6. Hartman’s-dorf; 7. Ober Weisers-dorf. So named after the deputies who were sent from Livingston’s manor to the Maqua country

Eventually, more food was grown, and thus life improved and people no longer starved. But, despite the fact that Hunter had let the Germans go free, he threatened the Germans not to move to Schoharie, or he would see it as rebellion. 

Weiser’s Dorf Schoharie County New York

Conrad’s son writes

Towards the end of July I returned from among the Indians to my father, and had made considerable progress, or had learned the greater part of the Maqua language. An English mile from my father’s house there lived several Maqua families, and there was always something for me to do in interpreting, but without pay. There was no one else to be found among our people who understood the language, so that I gradually became completely master of the language, so far as my years and other circumstances permitted.

Here now this people lived peaceably for several years without preachers or magistrates. Each one did as he thought proper. About this time I became very sick and expected to die, and was willing to die, for my stepmother was indeed a stepmother to me. By her influence my father treated me very harshly; I had no other friend, and had to bear hunger and cold. I often thought of running away, but the sickness mentioned put a bit in my mouth; I was bound as if by a rope to remain with my father to obey him.

The people had taken possession of Schoharie without informing the Governor of New York. In 1715, Hunter sent an agent, Adam Vrooman, to Schoharie, to make deeds for the Palatines, although the Mohawk had granted them the land.  The Palatines were resistant, and the land that the Germans had settled on in Schoharie was taken away and granted by Hunter  to seven rich merchants, four of whom lived in Albany, the other three in New York. The names of those in Albany were Myndert Shyller, John Shyller, Robert Livingston (the one with the 160,000 acre manor), Peter Van Brugken; of those in New York were George Clerk, at that time Secretary, Doctor Stadts, Rip Van Dam.

The German deputies were stripped of their titles, and the promise of free land by Queen Anne was ignored.  Hunter authorized a warrant for Weiser’s arrest, after Vrooman complained of mistreatment while in Schoharie, but Weiser escaped. This brought an uproar, and the Germans rebelled. They drove out the sheriff who was sent from Albany, and became increasingly hostile to the government.

Adam Vrooman was father-in-law to Hilletje LANSING’s son Joachim Ketel.  Here’s the story from his perspective

Adam Vrooman Bio from Genealogical and family history of northern New York : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth

Upon this a great uproar arose in Schocharie and Albany, because many persons in Albany wished the poor people to retain their lands. The people of Schocharie divided into two parties; the strongest did not wish to obey, but to keep the land, and therefore sent deputies to England to obtain a grant from Queen Anne not only for Schocharie, but for more land in addition. But the plans did not succeed according to their wishes.

Commissioner to London

After five years of hostility between the Germans and the New York government, the German Palatines decided to send representatives to appeal to the Board of Trade in London. The community sent three men to represent them: Johann Conrad Weiser, Wilhelm Scheff, and Gerhardt Walrath. Hunter and his allies worked on a compromise to prevent the men from leaving. Because Hunter had threatened to arrest Weiser, the three commissioners decided to leave from Philadelphia instead of New York. They departed the city in 1718, but fell into the hands of pirates in the Delaware Bay. They lost their personal money, but not that of the colony. Conrad was three times tied up and flogged, but would not confess to having money; finally William Scheff, the other deputy, said to the pirates, this man and I have a purse in common, and I have already given it to you, he had nothing to give you. They were released and left without money and suitable clothing.

The ship stopped at Boston for more supplies. The commissioners finally arrived in London and found that Queen Anne had died. The new monarch, King George I, was not interested in their case.

They still found some of the old friends and advocates of the Germans, among whom were the Chaplains at the King’s German Chapel, Messrs. Boehn and Roberts, who did all in their power. The affairs of the deputies finally reached the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, and the Governor of New York, Robert Hunter, was called home. In the meanwhile, the deputies got into debt; Walrath, the third deputy, became homesick, and embarked on a vessel bound to New York, but died at sea.

Weiser and Scheff  were thrown into prison; they wrote in time for money, but some of their letters were intercepted and owing to the ignorance and over-confidence of the persons who had the money to transmit which the people had collected, it reached England very slowly. In the meanwhile, Robert Hunter had arrived in England, had arranged the sale of the Schocharie lands in his own way, before the Board of Trade and Plantations. The opposite party was in prison, without friends or money. Finally, when a bill of exchange for seventy pounds sterling arrived, they were released from prison,

In July 1720, Weiser and Scheff petitioned anew to the Board of Trade, and in the end got an order to the newly arrived Governor of New York, William Burnet, to grant vacant land to the Germans who had been sent to New York by the deceased Queen Anne.

By this time, Hunter had resigned as governor and took a position in Jamaica. The newly commissioned Governor of New York, William Burnet, was ordered to grant land to the Germans. In 1723 he completed what was called the Burnetsfield Patent, whereby 100 heads of families received about 100 acres each on the north and south sides of the Mohawk River west of present-day Little Falls.  Governor Burnet gave patents for land to the few who were willing to settle in the Maqua country, namely in Stone Arabia [Starting in the 1980’s an Amish Center], and above the falls, but none on the river as the people hoped. They therefore scattered, the larger part removed to the Maqua country or remained in Schocharie, and bought the land from the before-named rich men.

Weiser and Scheff were dissatisfied and had a falling out in 1721. Refusing to follow Weiser, Scheff returned home but died six months later. Weiser returned to North America in 1723.  He decided to migrate to the colony of Pennsylvania.

Later life and death

In 1723, William Keith, Baronet Governor of Pennsylvania, was in Albany on business when he heard about the suffering of the Germans in New York. He invited them to the colony of Pennsylvania. With the help of the Mohawk, Weiser led a group of Germans from Schoharie south to the Susquehanna River; they traveled along Indian paths and by canoe to present-day Tulpehocken in the spring of 1723. 

Conrad Jr writes:

The people got new of the land on Suataro and Tulpehocken, in Pennsylvania; many of them united and cut a road from Schochary to the Susquehanna rive, carried their goods there, and made canoes, and floated down the river to the mouth of the Suataro creek, and drove their cattle over land. This happened in the year 1723. From there they came to Tulpehocken, and this was the origin of Tulpehocken settlement. Others followed this party and settled there, at first, also, without the permission of the Proprietary of Pennsylvania or his Commissioners; also against the consent of the Indians, from whom the land had not yet been purchased. There was no one among the people to govern them, each one did as he pleased, and their obstinacy has stood in their way ever since.

Weiser was unhappy with many of his fellow Germans, and returned to New York a few years later. He wandered around New York for several years. Conrad Jr. brought him to the home of his grandsons in Pennsylvania in May 1746, where he died soon after.

Children

1. Maria Catharina Weiser

Maria’s husband Hans Conrad Boss was born 1685 in Grosaspach, Germany. His parents were xx. Hans Conrad died 15 Jun 1753 in Germany.

Catrina, stayed behind with her husband, Conrad Boss and two children. Weiser sold his house, fields, meadows, vineyard, and garden to Conrad and Catrina, but they could only pay him 75 gulden, the remainder, 600 gulden, was to be paid to my father at a subsequent period, which was never done, so it was made a present to them.

3. Anna Magdalena WEISER (See Jan Johannes DeLONG‘s page)

6. John Conrad Weiser

Conrad’s wife Anna Eva Feg was born 5 Jan 1699/1700 in Schoharie, Schoharie, New York. Her parents were John Peter Feg (Feck) and Anna Maria Risch. Anna died 11 Jun 1781 in Womelsdorf, Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

Conrad was a Pennsylvania Dutch pioneer, interpreter and diplomat between the Pennsylvania Colony and Native Americans. He was a farmer, soldier, monk, tanner, and judge as well. He contributed as an emissary in councils between Native Americans and the colonies, especially Pennsylvania, during the French and Indian War.  Weiser was able to maintain fairly stable relations between the Pennsylvania government and the Iroquois Nation during the 1730’s and 1740’s.

File:ConradWeiserPortrait.jpg

There is no certifiable image of Conrad Weiser in existence and this one is no exception. Neither the often used drawing of a man in a suit and top-hat, which was first published in the Walton book, nor this image are proven to represent Weiser’s true appearance and in fact, the top-hat image is clearly a fabrication, as the clothing is of a different time and wholely inconsistent to anything Weiser would have worn. 

When Conrad was 16, his father agreed to a Sacem Quaynant’s proposal for the youth to live with the Mohawks in the upper Schoharie Valley. During his stay in the winter and spring of 1712-1713, Weiser learned much about the Mohawk language and the customs of the Iroquois, while enduring hardships of cold, hunger, and homesickness. For example, Weiser was one of the few Indian/Colonial interpreters who comprehended the overwhelming significance of the use of Wampum in conducting matters of diplomacy with the Iroquois. Conrad returned to his own people towards the end of July 1713.

Mohawk Longhouse

On November 22, 1720, at the age of 24, Weiser married  Anna Eve Fegg. In 1723 the couple followed the Susquehanna River south out of New York and settled their young family on a farm in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania near present-day Reading, Berks County , PA. Weiser prospered in the Pennsylvania colony, building a tanner, engaging in surveying, and investing in land.  He also devoted considerable time to spiritual development, serving as a schoolmaster and lay reader for a German Lutheran congregation.  The couple had fourteen children, of which only seven reached adulthood.

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Berks County, Pennsylvania Weiser desired to establish a separate county from Lancaster in which the town of Reading would be located. His wish was granted, as the county of Berks was created in 1752. Additionally, Weiser was appointed the county’s first justice of the peace. 

Trouble was brewing in two regions. In eastern Pennsylvania, the Delaware and Shawnee —despite a legacy of their peaceful relations with William Penn—were growing more angry at being pushed out of their homelands by the increasing number of frontier settlements. The situation in the Susquehanna Valley was even more volatile, as large bands of Native American refuges from the south—moving slowly northward to join the Iroquois in upstate New York—were establishing temporary colonies as they traveled. Weiser and Logan knew the Iroquois were supporting these settlements in the Iroquois tradition that members of their nations who see the Confederacy’s protection should receive it and be adopted. Various bands of Native Americans—Tuscaroras, Nanticokes, Conoys, and Tutelowes—all sent representatives to the Iroquois capital of Onondaga requesting permission, which they received, to move north through Pennsylvania.

Iroquois and Delaware Map

The Iroquois saw this refugee movement as a way of maintaining a Native American presence in the Susquehanna Valley. They also knew that the migrations posed the danger of clashes with neighboring colonial settlers. To balance these two elements and ensure continued friendly relations with the colonists, the Onondaga Council—the highest governing body of the Iroquois Confederacy—dispatched a deputy to Pennsylvania to act with Iroquois authority over the tribes. This official was known among the Delawares as Shikellamy, which is pronounced “Shi-KELL-a-mee,” and means “Our Enlightener.”

Weiser’s colonial service began in 1731. The Iroquois sent Shikellamy, an Oneida chief, as an emissary to other tribes and the British. Shikellamy is believed to have been born to a French father and a Cayuga mother. The matrilineal tradition of the Cayuga tribe led to his being raised by his mother within the Indian tribe. He was taken captive by the Oneidas when he was about two years old and spent his formative years with that tribe. He lived on the Susquehanna River at Shamokin village, near present-day Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Early in the eighteenth century, the village consisted of Iroquois migrants from the north, as well as Shawnee and Lenape settlers moving away from the expanding white settlement of Pennsylvania.

Shikellamy’s portrait from the Appletons’ article on “Swatane”

An oral tradition holds that Weiser met Shikellamy while hunting. In any case, the two became friends. When Shikellamy traveled to Philadelphia for a council with the province of Pennsylvania, he brought Weiser with him. The Iroquois trusted him and considered him an adopted son of the Mohawks. Weiser impressed the Pennsylvania governor and council, which thereafter relied heavily on his services. Weiser also interpreted in a follow-up council in Philadelphia in August, 1732.

Weiser was instrumental in forging Pennsylvania’s new policy which recognized Iroquois authority over the Native Americans within the colony’s borders. The policy was sound in theory, but there was still a question as to whether it could be effectively carried out. A person of unquestioned integrity and stature would be needed to administer such a policy, on who could hold the trust of both colonists and Native Americans. The Iroquois already had appointed Shikellamy, who was respected both by his people and the colonists. Pennsylvania appointed Conrad Weiser, who was known to be on good terms with some of the Mohawks. It was unclear, however, how he would be received by the Iroquois and their famed Onondaga Council.

During the treaty in Philadelphia of 1736, Shikellamy, Weiser and the Pennsylvanians negotiated a deed whereby the Iroquois sold the land drained by the Delaware River and south of the Blue Mountain.

Delaware River Basin

Since the Iroquois had not until then laid claim to this land, Pennsylvania’s agreement to purchase from them represented a significant change in the colony’s policy toward the Native Americans. William Penn had never taken sides in disputes between tribes. By this formal purchase, the Pennsylvanians were favoring the Iroquois over the claims of the Lenape/Delawares for the same land. Along with the Walking Purchase of the following year, Penn’s treaty exacerbated Pennsylvania-Lenape relations. The Lenapes became disenchanted with the English colonials as a result; during the French and Indian Wars, they sided with the French and caused many colonial deaths. Penn’s purchase persuaded the Iroquois to continue to side with the British over the French.

File:Pennsylvania land purchases.png

Pennsylvania land purchases

During the winter of 1737, Weiser was commissioned by Pennsylvania to present an invitation from the government of Virginia to the Onondaga Council to send delegates to a peace conference in Williamsburg. It was an urgent matter because Virginia was allied with the Catawbas, who were at war with the Iroquois. The danger loomed that Virginia might be drawn into a war with the Iroquois, which could potentially pull Pennsylvania into the conflict. Weiser was instructed to rush to Onondaga in time to halt Iroquois war parties scheduled to set out in the spring

Weiser left home on February 27, 1737, crossing the Blue Mountain by Indian path and joining up with Shikellamy. The traveling party ran into heavy snow, making the trip difficult and treacherous. With war or peace hanging in the balance, they pressed on, climbing cliffs to escape flooded valleys and struggling on foot through snow that was at times up to their knees.

After six terrible weeks, exhausted and starving, Weiser collapsed in the snow. If it had not been for Shikellamy, he would have died on the trail.

When they arrived April 10 in Onondago, Weiser mustered enough strength to stand before the assembly of chiefs and deliver his message, confirming it with a belt of white wampum, the symbol of peace. The chiefs immediately dispatched runners to all parts of the Six Nations to call off preparations for war. Weiser persuaded the Iroquois not to send any war parties in the spring, but he failed to convince them to send emissaries to parlay with the southern tribes.

Weiser emerged from this episode an Iroquois hero.  Impressed with his fortitude, the Iroquois named Weiser Tarachiawagon (Holder of the Heavens). Spill-over violence from a war between the Iroquois and southern tribes such as the Catawba would have drawn first Virginia, and then Pennsylvania, into conflict with the Iroquois. Therefore this peace-brokering had a profound effect on Native American/colonial relations.

In 1742, Weiser interpreted at a treaty meeting between the Iroquois and English colonials at Philadelphia, when they were paid for the land purchased in 1736. During this council, the Iroquois Onondaga chief Canasatego castigated the Lenape/Delawares for engaging in land sales. He ordered them to remove their settlements to either Wyoming or Shamokin village. This accelerated the Lenape migration to the Ohio Valley, which had begun as early as the 1720s. There, they were positioned to trade with the French. At the same time, they launched raids as far east as the Susquehanna River during the French and Indian Wars.

In 1744, Weiser acted as the interpreter for the Treaty of Lancaster, between representatives of the Iroquois and the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. After the Treaty of Lancaster, both the Virginia and Pennsylvania colonial officials acted as if the Iroquois had sold them settlement rights to the Ohio Valley, but the Iroquois did not believe they had done so.

Weiser was one of Pennsylvania’s most noted travelers, whether on horseback , on foot or by canoe. He made five journeys to the Iroquois homeland: in 1737, 1743, 1745, 1750, and in 1751. The most significant trip he undertook after 1737 was in 1748, when he traveled to  Logstown, a council and trade village on the Ohio River, eighteen miles below the Point at Pittsburgh.   Here he held council with chiefs representing 10 tribes, including Delawares, Shawnees, and the Iroquois. Weiser’s stated goal was to “brighten the chain of friendship” with Native Americans in the region, and specifically to claim the Ohio-Allegheny country for the English colonies.

He arrived at a treaty of friendship between Pennsylvania and these tribes. Threatened by this development and the continued activity of British traders in the Ohio Valley, the French redoubled their diplomatic efforts. In addition, they began to build a string of forts to protect their interests, culminating in Fort Duquesne in 1754 at present-day Pittsburgh. The conflict ultimately resulted in the French and Indian War, which established English colonial control over the land.

In 1750, Weiser traveled again to Onondaga, where he found the political dynamics in the Six Nations had shifted. Canasatego, always pro-British, had died. Several Iroquois tribes were leaning toward the French, although the Mohawks remained pro-British.

Early in the summer of 1754, on the eve of the Seven Years’ War, called the French and Indian War in North America, Weiser was a member of a Pennsylvania delegation to Albany. The English government had called the meeting, hoping to win assurances of Iroquois support in the looming war with the French. Present were representatives of the Iroquois and seven colonies. Because of divisions within both the British and Native American ranks, the council did not result in the treaty of support which the crown desired. Instead, each colony made the best deal it could with individual Iroquois leaders.

Conrad Weiser was able to negotiate one of the more successful agreements. Some lower-level chiefs deeded to the colony most of the land remaining in present-day Pennsylvania, including the southwestern part still claimed by Virginia.

In 1756, the government appointed Weiser and Ben Franklin to lead construction of a series of forts between the Delaware River and the Susquehanna River. In the fall of 1758, Weiser attended a council at Easton, Pennsylvania. Representation included colonial leaders from Pennsylvania, the Iroquois and other Native American tribes. Weiser helped smooth over the tense meeting. With the Treaty of Easton, the tribes in the Ohio Valley agreed to abandon support for the French. This collapse of Native American support was a factor in the French decision to demolish Fort Duquesne and withdraw from the Forks of the Ohio.

Conrad Weiser Portrait –  From CONRAD WEISER AND THE INDIAN POLICY OF COLONIAL PENNSYLVANIA. The book was published in 1900. — The founder of the Weiser Family Association and scholar and author, Rev. Frederick S. Weiser, did not believe this image was in any way accurate and in fact, laughed heartily about the garb the figure is wearing in it. 

Throughout his decades-long career, Weiser built on his knowledge of Native American languages and culture. He was a key player in treaty negotiations, land purchases, and the formulation of Pennsylvania’s policies towards Native Americans. Because of his early experiences with the Iroquois, Weiser was inclined to be sympathetic to their interpretation of events, as opposed to the Lenape or the Shawnees. This may have exacerbated Pennsylvanian-Lenape/Shawnee relations, with bloody consequences in the French and Indian Wars.

Nevertheless, for many years, Weiser helped to keep the powerful Iroquois allied with the British as opposed to the French. This important service contributed to the continued survival of the British colonies and the eventual victory of the British over the French in the French and Indian Wars.

In 1734, Weiser began a spiritual journey with Conrad Beissel,, a mystic with the German Seventh Day Baptist Church who had recently established the Ephrata Cloister, a monastic settlement in the nearby Cocalico Valley, Ephrata Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Weiser was among a group of Tulpehocken Valley settlers who, in 1735, accepted baptism from Beissel. Following the ritual, Weiser burned his Lutheran devotionals and attempted to establish a congregation in the Tulpehocken Valley.

He met with opposition to this attempt and moved from his home, with his wife, to the Ephrata Cloister, where he was known as Brother Enoch. Anna stayed only a few months before moving back. Conrad Weiser stayed for six years, although he made frequent visits to his family, resulting in the birth of four of his children.  In addition, he took leaves of absence from the monastery for diplomatic duties, such as those in 1736 and 1737. Weiser left the Ephrata Cloister in 1741 and resumed his life in the Tulpehocken Valley. After returning from Ephrata, Weiser became the foremost layman of his day in the Lutheran Church of America. He also was a great promoter of the Native American mission which the Moravian Church established in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

File:Ephrata cloister.jpg

Ephrata Cloister, now a Pennsylvania State Historic Park

Like many other colonists, Weiser combined farming with other trades: land owner and speculator, tanner, and merchant. He created the plan for the town of Reading in 1748, was a key figure in the creation of Berks County in 1752, and served as its chief judge until 1760. Conrad was also teacher and a lay minister of the Lutheran Church; he was one of the founders of Trinity Church in Reading.

File:Trinity Lutheran Reading PA.JPG

Trinity Lutheran Church in Reading, Pennsylvania

In 1756, during the French and Indian War, the Lenape began to raid central Pennsylvania. When the colony organized a militia, its leaders appointed Weiser as a Lt. Colonel. Working with Benjamin Franklin, he planned and established a series of forts between the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. When General Forbes evicted the French from Fort Duquesne in 1758, the threat subsided and Britain later gained all territory east of the Mississippi River at the Treaty of Paris following their success in the Seven Years War.

Death and legacy

Weiser died on his farm on July 13, 1760. Upon his death, one Iroquois Indian noted to a group of colonists, “We are at a great loss and sit in darkness…as since his death we cannot so well understand one another.”  Indeed, shortly after Conrad Weiser’s death, relations between the colonists and the Native Americans began a rapid decline.

Weiser’s will bequeathed about 4,000 acres  and part of his farm to Berks County. It serves as an interpretive center for 18th century farming, political and colonial history, and hosts regular re-enactments of events during the French and Indian War. The property is administered as a state park.  Here is the inventory of Conrad’s estate, which totaled  £2641. The list of books is especially interesting.

Conrad Jr’s Descendants

Weiser and Anna’s descendants continued to play roles in civic life. Their daughter Maria married Henry Muhlenberg. Two of their sons had important roles in gaining independence for the United States.

Peter Muhlenberg served as a Major General in the Continental Army and saw service at Valley Forge,the Battles of BrandywineGermantown, and Monmouth and the Battle of Yorktown,  A Lutheran minister, he served as Lt Governor of Pennsylvania and later in the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate from Pennsylvania.

Peter Muhlenberg, Minister, Major General, Lt Governor, Representative and Senator

Frederick Muhlenberg was the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. According to legend, Muhlenberg suggested that the title of the President of the United States should be “Mr. President” instead of “His High Mightiness” or “His Elected Majesty”, as John Adams had suggested

Frederick Muhlenberg 1st and 3rd Speaker of the House

A great-grandson Peter M. Weiser (born 1781) was a member of the Corps of Discovery on the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804-1806.

Places named for Conrad Weiser

Weiser’s major contribution to history was his service as an emissary between the British colonies and the Native Americans, especially the Iroquois. This service had direct and powerful influence over the histories of the French and British empires, the Native American peoples, and the United States.

  • The Conrad Weiser Homestead in Womelsdorf has been preserved as a state historic site and is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Weiser and his family were buried at the homestead. The property is on Pennsylvania Route 422 in Berks County. The site contains original and historic buildings on a 26 acre site with grounds designed by the Olmsted Brothers in 1928. Due to state budget cutbacks, the PHMC announced that it would close public access to the buildings.

    File:Conrad Weiser Homestead.jpg

    Conrad Weiser Homestead, Womelsdorf, Berks County, PA 

  • Camp Conrad Weiser  is a 500-acre  YMCA overnight camp in Berks County. Founded in 1948, it serves boys and girls aged six to sixteen.
  • Conrad Weiser Area School District in western Berks County serves the townships of South Heidelberg Township, Heidelberg Township, North Heidelberg Township, and Marion Township, and the boroughs of Wernersville, Robesonia, and Womelsdorf.
  • The Weiser State Forest occupies 17,961 acres  on several tracts in Carbon, Coulmbia, Dauphin, Northumberland, and Schuylkill counties in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Veneration

Weiser is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on July 13.

7. George Frederick Weiser

George’s  first wife was Sarah Scudder and they had a daughter Prudence Weiser. Prudence married Daniel Blatchley and they had a daughter Mary. All occurred in Smithtown, LI NY.  George’s second wife Rebecca Udall was born 1697 in Germany. Her parents were Joseph Udall and [__?__]. Rebecca died in 1774.

8. Christopher Weiser

Christopher’s wife Maria Catharine Roeder was born 24 Mar 1720 in Mutterstadt, Germany. Her parents were Johann Adam Rader and Anna Katharina Tauber. Maria Catharine died 19 Feb 1786 in Emmaus, Lehigh, Pennsylvania.

9. Anna Barbara Weiser

Anna Barbara’s husband Nicholas Pickard was born 23 Feb 1701 in Schoharie, Schoharie, New York. His parents were Bartholomew Pickert and Eechje Classez. Nicholas died 1773 in Fort Plain, New York.

12. Jacob Weiser

Jacob’s wife Anna Eva Batdorf was born 1722 in Schoharie, Schoharie, New York. Her parents were Johannes Martin Batdorf and Maria Elizabeth Walborn. Anna died 1769 in Dauphin, Pennsylvania.

13. Rebecca Weiser

Rebecca’s husband Frederick Klein emigrated from Germany in 1710.

14. John Frederick Weiser

John Frederick’s wife Leana Catherine Henrich was born 12 Feb 1717 in Maxsain, Hessen-Nassau, Preußen. Her parents were xx. Leana died 8 Dec 1793 in Anneville, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Conrad_Weiser,_Sr.

http://trees.ancestry.com/owt/person.aspx?pid=9104649&st=1

http://www.weiserfamily.org/

Weiser Families in America. Vol I & II New Oxford PA: Penobscot Press, 1997. Chapter 5: Anna Magdelena Weiser DeLong p 1405.

http://conradweiserhomestead.org/history_autobiography.htm

http://www.governor.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_6_2_36735_4277_443827_43/

http://motherjones.com/politics/2001/11/refugees-time

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This entry was posted in 11th Generation, Artistic Representation, Historical Church, Historical Monument, Historical Site, Immigrant - Continent, Place Names, Storied, Veteran, Wikipedia Famous and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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  12. J Walters says:

    George Frederick Weiser married twice. His first wife was Sarah Scudder and they had a daughter Prudence Weiser. Prudence married Daniel Blatchley and they had a daughter Mary. All occurred in Smithtown, LI NY.

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