With the 400th Anniversary of our first ancestor’s arrival in the New World, it becomes important to recognize how and where these early families settled. The arrival and settlement are broken into five 50-year time periods, starting with 1600 and ending in the 1800s.
The earliest immigrants arrived in the early to mid-1600s and disembarked in three main locations—the New Netherland Colony controlled by the Dutch, the British Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the Delaware Bay Colony mainly overseen by the Swedes. Nomadic indigenous tribes inhabited New York and much of the Eastern coast areas permanently about 1000BCE, most from the Lenape tribes. Algonquian tribes dominated the Massachusetts area while the Nanticoke tribes lived within the Delaware Bay region.
New Amsterdam, now Manhattan, was settled by ancestors Vigne, Adrienssen, Vandersluyse, Rutgers, and Van Ness. What is now Brooklyn, which was a series of small villages such as Cripplebush, Bushwyck, Gravesend, became the stomping grounds of the families Paules, Jansen (via Albany), Celes, Opdycke, Nyssen, Pietersen, Moll, Wyckoff, and Woertmann. The Smith kin settled in what is now Queens and ancestors Pine, Armitage, and Wrights (via Massachusetts Bay) called Nassau home. Across the Hudson River and the Bays, Albany was final stop for the Verplancks and ancestors Van Hoorn, Lippincott, Whitehead and Bonnell (the last two families via Massachusetts Bay) ended up in North Jersey.
Original inhabitants of what is now Connecticut included the Uncowas, Sasquas, Maxumux, and Pequonnocks—subdivisions of the Paugussett tribes while Massachusetts tribes, such as the Pequossette and the Nonantum, had lived off the land for centuries. Ancestral families Moorehouse, Knowles, Burr, and Cabel would settle in what is now Fairfield, Connecticut and the Ong, Underwood (via Hingham), Barbour, and Garland families set up homes in Watertown and Medfield, Massachusetts and in Rye, now New Hampshire, just to the north.
Originally the Swedes displaced the Delaware Bay indigenous tribes, with the families Bonde, Gunnarson, and Nilsson calling Kingsessing, Philadelphia home and the Humphreys, Larsson, Eskilsson, and Gustafsson (Justis) families settling in current Delaware County, Pennsylvania. South down the Delaware River, ancestors Anderssons and van der Coelens settled what is now New Castle, Delaware and the Wilson family set up shop in Talbot, Maryland.
As the century rolled on, immigrants chose Philadelphia over New York, Boston, and the Chesapeake, where religious freedom was more open, land opportunities widely available, and abolition was held as a common value. The final New England and Maryland immigrants were the Lacys (via Boston) who settled in Fairfield and the Shillings and Worthleys of Talbot and St. Marys.
New York, as it was renamed after the British overtook the Dutch, would entice some remaining immigrants, including the Cossarts, Villemans, Deharts, Nieukerks in Brooklyn. Also on the Island, the Hartings of Manhattan, the Grassettes of Queens, and the Searings and Van Kleefes of Nassau. A good bit of original New York immigrants quickly exited to Jersey and Pennsylvania, leaving oppressive conditions behind. Monmouth became the home for ancestors White, Bull, Andrews, while the families of Kinne from New York and Green settled in the counties of Hunterdon and Somerset. Union County was the stopping point for the Morse and Broadwells from New England and Monnets from Staten Island.
Philadelphia would become the place. More immigrants would arrive here than any other port and many more would migrate here from other areas of the colonies. A few would settle in Bucks County, becoming home for the Livesay (Dublin) and the Thompson and Hinkson clans (Middletown). Other ancestors would group in Delaware County, Marcus Hook and Ammansland (now Darby) hosting the old guard Swedes, such as the Gastenbergs, Nilssons, Grelssons, Van Ceulens, and Mortonsons while Haverford became the haven for the British immigrants, the Ellis, Humphrey, Rees, and Wynne families.
Although most ancestors made a beeline from the immigrant larger city-ports (Boston, New York, Philadelphia) for the rural areas of the colonies, a few remained in Philadelphia: The Koch and Mansdotters of Kingsessing, the Rambo and Matssons of Passyunk, the Bengtsson of Moyamensing, and two families, the Smiths and Rakestraws, settling on Arch Street. Just outside of the city, the small villages of Chester County were filling up with folks, such as the Porter, Coston, Woodyer, Phipps, and Binfields of Uwchlan, the Gibbs who left Arch Street for Edgemont, the Taylors of Springfield, and the Houlstons of Middletown. Lastly, the Evans family settled in Chester but ended in Mt. Joy in Lancaster County and the Williams, Matthews, and Marsh families set up roots in Sadsbury, which for all intents and purposes was Lancaster County, just officially in Chester.
Of these Pennsylvania immigrants of this era, most selected Montgomery County. Shoemakertown, named for ancestor George Shoemaker, was home for his family, as well the ancestors Braun. Skippack was settled by such families as the Millers, deHavens, Shipbowers, and the Pennypackers, who also have a area name for them—Pennypecca, now Pennypacker farms. Aptly named Germantown, became home for Klincks, Rittenhouses, DeWees, and Bauchers/Reuters, as well as the Umstadts, Opdengraff, and Jansens (those latter three families then relocated to Skippack).
As the 18th century opened, the sheer mass of most of the ancestral immigration would be evident. More than half the ancestors would head to the Colonies during this period. Nearly all voyaged straight to the Philadelphia port, with a token few New York immigrants who would immediately head to south to Penn’s Woods, Tulpehocken, in present-day Berks, which would quickly become the homestead epicenter.
However, there are still outliers, as the Hensels and Hartmans who settled in Berkeley, Virginia and the few remaining New York/Jersey folks—Rockland’s Styper and Zerbes families and Hunterdon’s Fischer, Kluge, Fleming, Murphy, Farrar, Bollinger, and Monnet kinfolk. These families would eventually migrate to Pennsylvania as well.
In the Commonwealth, there are still a few stragglers near the city of Philadelphia and its environs. Bristol, Bucks County hosts the Bond, Shires, Gale, Sulch and Germantown became home for more trailblazing families, like the Armitage and Charlesworths. In the city itself, the Taylor and Frazier families land in Northern Liberties, the Daily folks in Southwark, and the Gmelin and Kuntz clans in town. Nearby in Haverford, we still have settlers such as the Parry, Edwards, and George families.
As mentioned though, Tulpehocken, which would eventually be northern Berks County, was the key. The vast majority of the ancestors would settle either in what would become Berks County, our in a county that borders Berks, all within a radius of a mere 100 miles. These counties are Chester, Lancaster, Dauphin/Lebanon, Schuylkill, Montgomery, and Lehigh/Northampton. In Sadsbury, Chester County (as mentioned, practically Lancaster), settled the Leonard and Neals. Next door in Montgomery, the aforementioned Germantown and Skippack as well as Frederick, New Hanover and Salford would be the homesteads for families such as Armitage, Gaukler, Lahmann, Schmidt, Marstellar, Van Sintern, Bittel, Kepler, Springer, Brunner and Kolbe. Just to the north, bordering Berks Eastern side, Lehigh and Northampton played host to families like the Knerr, Witmer, and Hertzogs.
Southwest of Berks, Lancaster County would become the final residence for ancestors named Bauman, LeFevre, Ferre, and Herr (Pequea), Kelly, Anderson, and Spencer (Donegal), Schauer, Wolfskiel, and Englert (Earl), Groetzinger and Jungblut (Warwick), Frantz, Hake, Kurtz, Becker (Cocalico), Trout, Rau, and Valbrua (Strasburg), and Schneider and Melius (Manor). To the north is Lebanon and Dauphin, two counties that were once part of Lancaster. In what is now Lebanon, Fredericksburg would be settled by the Heilze, Bowen, and Felten folks while the Schuppinger, Kletler, Steeger, Sanders, Heilman, Reisch, and Millers came to town of Lebanon. Ancestors Faber, Huber, and Hautsch would head to Jonestown with the Schmidt, Schant, Shall, Schnug, Angst, Stroeher, and Overkirsch families rounding out the area. Very early settlers in Dauphin County would include the Robinsons, Boals, and Schupps. North of Berks, and once part of it, is Schuylkill County, which would see Catherine Huraff and Peter Hamm settle as early as 1749 in Pine Grove.
That brings us to Tulpehocken itself, the final domicile of the largest part of the ancestry. This area which comprised what is now the northern townships in Berks, became the Utopia for ancestors directly from Europe, and migrates from New England, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Among those families were the Walborn, Feg, Gutman, Bauer, Batdorf, Meiser, Zeller, Emmerich, Zerbe, Reith, Stupp, Sext, Shaffer, Schmidt, Heck, Arnoldt, Herrold, Rauch, Weickart, Bauschlag, Brigel, Schwartz, Bracher, Gieseman, Daniel, Deibler, Neu, and Koebels. As early as the 1720s, Henry and Mary Bassler would set up roots in Fells Manor. In Oley, the Benfields settled while the Kistler held up in Albany and the Kiefer and Longs in Longswamp.
This was a deep wilderness and took tough, determined folks to withstand and survive. And across the Susquehanna River, was even deeper wilderness, in primitive villages in what would become York, Adams, and Cumberland Counties. Codorus, York would host ancestors Geiselman, Stambach, and Mueller while Chanceford became home to the Gohn, Gauffres, and Stroehers. Conrad Deitz and his brood would find the town of York their final destination, arriving in 1730s, when the county population was certainly in the low hundreds. Lastly, the Werner and Zieglers settled what is now Adams county while George Hoch and his brood headed to Carlisle, Cumberland County to set roots.
Immigration continued into the second half of the 18th century, with every single arriving through Philadelphia, except one—Joseph Fischer via New York. Although a small percentage of the earlier pioneers did stay in Philly, of the 82 immigrants of this half-century, only two stayed in the city, but whose next generation would travel west to join the other pioneers. Berks was still a major migratory end but two areas just to the west, Dauphin/Lebanon and York/Adams, would see increased settlement.
The Philadelphia ancestors were Egler, Schnoke, Tulloch, and McClouds and to the north, in the Northampton/Lehigh area, would settle the Mantz family in Lynn and the Geise family in Macungie, both of who’s next generation would also migrate west. To the west of Philadelphia, the Hummel and Zinck clans would inhabit Montgomery county, in the aforementioned Skippack and Frederick villages. Lancaster County still lured many immigrants, including the Steiner, Messerschmidt, Schoeneck, Klein, Romberger, and Enders. When these families’ next generation joined the migration west, coupled with the lone Fischer family of Sussex County, Jersey, every single ancestor was now in Central Pennsylvania.
Berks County settlers would still be focused in the Tulpehocken region, with families such as the Wertz, Garman, Schnoke, Kroeger, Schutt, Bender, and Browns. Greenwich became home to the Epley and Bards, Cumru to the Hahn and Remps, and Rockland to the Zangers. In Lebanon, just to Berks’ west, Hanover and Schaefferstown would prove safe places for the Burgauer, Oberlander, Neipp, Rotscher, Huber, Karcher, Schaublin, and Rudy families. There would be the first migration to Northern Dauphin County during this time, led the way by ancestors Matter, Joray, Guerne, Helt, Kuntz, Wirth, and Welker.
York County became an even greater settlement area than last period, the Zoller and Bruecker of Manheim and the Bager and Schwabs of Berwick, now both in Adams County. The town of York became home for the Bleymeier, Reiman, and Raus families, while Shrewsbury found the Steins, Korfmans, and Scheffers at its door. The north-east portion of York drew in the Hamm, Hetzel, Ulrich, and Geib clans. The lone Cumberland County settler was the Bucher folks. Two families, the Heims and Clarks, made the early, difficult journey to be part of the earliest pioneering in Northumberland County.
The 1700s would end and with it nearly all the European ancestral immigration. The only documented African birth is Rainey Brown, born 1798 in Africa, so she would have been enslaved and brought to America in early 1800’s. The other African-American ancestors would have arrived during this period as well, enslaved in South Carolina and Georgia, persevering until Abolition would occur after the Civil War. In 1898 Percy Forsyth, of Bahamian ancestry via Africa, but a third generation free man from Nova Scotia, would arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, eventually settling in Savannah, Georgia.
1827 would bring Alexander Thompson to Pottsville, Schuylkill County via New York port and 1870 would bring Fred Dankert (Duncan) to Sunbury, Northumberland County. Thompson would eventually migrate a few miles west and develop the town of Sheridan, laid out and financed by him. Duncan would stay in Sunbury and produce hard-working Duncan children to forge their future paths.
By mid-century, all generations of the Mason/Curry lines are in Savannah/Beaufort region. All the Thompson/Batdorf lines are in Northern Dauphin/Western Schuylkill area. All the Duncan/Anderson line are in the Sunbury, Eastern York, or Port Trevorton areas. Those would be the locations where ancestral migration would end. And the great-great children of these distant immigrants would begin!