4 			Little Bears
Click on the bears
to return to
Home Page/Main Menu

Some Paternal Ancestors of Edwin Brown (“Big Doc”) KUGLER Sr

Hans Peter UMBSTATT (c1650–c1711)1

He was born at Kriesheim (now spelled Kriegsheim, then also spelled Crisheim, Griesheim, Krysheym, etc) in the Electoral Palatinate (Kurpfalz), the largest political subdivision in the German Rheinland. The Palatinate was called “Electoral” because the head of state was an Elector (Kurfürst), one of the eight rulers who voted to elect the Holy Roman Emperor, the nominal High King of all the German states. The Palatinate was not continuous; many small enclaves interrupted the Elector’s lands—earldoms and duchies, independent lands belonging to the Church, or to free knights, and free imperial cities such as Worms and Speyer. Each of these jurisdictions had its own system of taxes, fees and/or tithes. Kriesheim, “a little vine-growing village on the Pfrimm River a two-hour westward walk [if you walk fast; it is about eight miles] from the free imperial city of Worms”2, was in the Palatinate proper, but it bordered on a small piece of the scattered earldom of Leiningen-Dagsburg-Falkenburg.3

Very many sources give the European home of the Umbstatts as Krefeldt, a town then in the United Netherlands, now in the German Land of Nordrhein-Westfalia. This is erroneous. Many Germantown settlers did come from Krefeldt, but the Umbstatts definitely lived at Kriesheim, and may never have had anything to do with Krefeldt, unless it was to pay customs there on their way to Rotterdam to take ship for America.4

In 1653, Philipp Wilhelm, Duke of Jülich-Berg decreed that all the Anabaptists in his realm must join the Catholic Church or sell their possessions and leave within two years.5 Accordingly, about 1655, a number of Dutch-speaking Mennonite immigrants from the Lower Rhine, including members of the Hendricks and Schomecker (now Schumacher) families, arrived at Kriesheim. Soon after that William Ames and George Rofe, Quaker missionaries from England, visited the community. Ames and Rofe made a number of converts in Kriesheim, including members of these two families of immigrants. While Mennonites refused to bear arms or swear oaths, they obediently paid whatever taxes were assessed for the privilege of living among the citizens of the principalities in which they sought refuge. Quakers on the other hand preached against the payment of taxes for military purposes or those that supported the State Church. They also refused to pay for the right to hold meetings for worship, since they believed this was a privilege that had no price.6

Next Earlier Generation

Next Later Generation


Return to Ancestors of “Big Doc” KUGLER Menu?

Return to KUGLER Menu?

Return to Home Page/Main Menu?

Contact me?

Search my site?

index      sitemap      advanced

site search by freefind
“. . . as their leader, ex-Mennonite Hans or Jan Philip Labach protested, ‘It seems strange to us that money is demanded from us for payment regarding the freedom of our conscience and meeting.’ In such matters of faith ‘no assessment can be made . . . nor money charged.’7

In two letters, dated 5 Jul and 11 Aug 1684, to his superior, the Elector of the Palatinate, Amtsschaffner Schmal, the administrator of the district that included Kriesheim, wrote:

“There are in Griesheim [Kriesheim] 5 households of Quakers who . . . give much aggravation, . . . unrest and bother[. T]hey respect no authority, and throughout [your] gracious reign [1680–85], have been unwilling to . . . recognize the town pastor’s authority. . . .”
“. . . [I]t is difficult to get them to pay the assessment, the Turkish war tax, the protection money, the large and small tithes, and the church and school taxes, and they refuse to stand duty as night watchmen as do others in the community. . . .”

He concludes by saying “to sum it up, they are a type of people who irritate many, and who respect and serve no one but themselves; therefore, for these reasons and many more,” Schmal wishes they would sell their belongings and go away.8

About 1669 at Kriesheim Hans Peter Umbstatt married Barbara ?????? (birthdate uncertain). It is believed that she was a Mennonite or Quaker, though her husband may have remained in the Lutheran faith. Their known children were Anna Margaretta, Johannes, and Eva, all born at Kriesheim. Anna Margaretta died as a young woman and may have been married to Gerhard Rüddinghuysen (“Garrett Rittenhouse”). Johannes, or “John” is the ancestor of most of the people with the Umstead surname in America. Eva married the immigrant Heinrich Pannebecker, progenitor of the Pennypackers, a prominent Pennsylvania family. This family included Judge (later Governor) Samuel W Pennypacker, the author of several historical and genealogical books9 and probably the originator of the erroneous supposition, since copied by many authors, both American and German, that the Umbstatts came from Krefelt.

In the bureaucratic structure of the Palatinate, Amtsschaffner Schmal, the Administrator of the district that included Kriesheim reported to the Elector, the Head of State, who had his seat at Heidelberg. Among German nobility the Elector’s rank was equivalent to that of a powerful Duke.

At Kriesheim on 8 May 1685 three men, Gerhard Hendrichs, Hans Petter Umstatt, and Petter Schumacher (my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather), came before the Amtsschaffner to apply for “certificates” for themselves and their households “that we might pass through customs unhindered”.

In other words, an application for a passport. This is the earliest document I know of in which Umbstatt is associated with Quakers.

The next day Schmal gloated in a letter:

“It appears that three Quaker households, to the great joy of the entire community, are selling their belongings and want to betake themselves to Holland or England, as shown in the attached [the passport request]. My question is, should I bid them farewell and let them go if they pay the ten pennies?”10 [I have not been able to determine the significance of “the ten pennies”; perhaps it was the standard fee for such a service.]

More than a month passed with no word from a higher authority. It was no wonder, for exactly a week (16 May) after Amtsschaffner Schmal wrote his cover letter for the passport application, Elector Karl II, of the house of Pfalz-Simmern (1651–1685, ruled 1680–1685), passed away. He died childless, causing the rule of the Palatinate to pass to a relative, Philipp Wilhelm of the house of Pfalz-Neuburg (1614–1690, ruler of the Palatinate 1685–1690). It was a new ballgame. Philipp Wilhelm was already the Duke of Jülich and Berg, two duchies that together straddled the Rhine to the north of the Palatinate. He was the very duke whose 1653 decree had obliged the Schumachers and Hendrickses to leave their homes along the lower Rhine! He had his capital at Düsseldorf and saw no reason to maintain a separate capital of the Palatinate at Heidelberg. Many government officials were probably scrambling to cope with the turmoil of the transition. Would they lose their jobs? Would they have to move to Düsseldorf? Who had time to deal with a request from three villagers who wanted to leave? And, whereas the rulers of the house of Pfalz-Simmern had been of the Reformed or Calvinist faith, Philipp Wilhelm was a staunch Catholic. He did not favor Mennonites, Quakers or other Protestants, though as a requirement for assuming the rule of the Palatinate, he was persuaded to sign an agreement to tolerate Lutherans and Calvinists, at least.11

As if that were not enough, the French King, Louis XIV, contested the Neuburg inheritance, maintaining that the Palatinate should go to France, on the basis of the marriage of his brother, the Duke of Orléans, to Elizabeth Charlotte, sister of the late, childless Elector. This led to the War of the Palatine Succession (1688–1697—in English often referred to as the War of the League of Augsburg, the War of the Grand Alliance, or King William’s War), in which the Palatinate was devastated for at least the third time.12 The new duke died in exile in Vienna while the French overran his lands. The duke’s son Johann Wilhelm returned to rule the Palatinate and Jülich-Berg after the war was over. But that’s another story; our ancestors got away before the war started.

Having heard nothing Umbstatt, Schumacher, and Hendricks again went before the Amtsschaffner on 11 June and asked him to implore another official, the Außfautt, whose name is not mentioned. An Außfautt was the government official responsible for collecting taxes from those people who were not strictly subjects of the Elector, but who lived in his territory. These people had dubious legal status, were called “poachers” and included Mennonites, Quakers, and Jews. Both Amtsschaffner and Außfautt were titles peculiar to the time and to the Palatinate.13

Sounding a little desperate, the three men ask what they should do and indicate that they need to get moving because the buyers of their houses have no place to live.14 It is not known whether they ever received their passports, but by 16 August they were in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. There they each bought 200 acres of land from Dirck Sipman, a speculator who had purchased from William Penn rights to five thousand acres in the Germantown area, near Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

Apparently no initial payment was required for the land, only the yearly quitrent of two Rix dollars, 5 gulden, or 100 stuyvers. Since the first quitrent was not due until early 1688 by our calendar, they had a couple of years’ grace period before they had to make any payment at all. And inasmuch as Sipman was obliged by the terms of his purchase from Penn to have some families transported to Pennsylvania, it is possible that he paid the passage there of the Schumacher, Hendricks and Umbstatt families. Part of the land was to be a separate 50-acre lot for a dwelling in Germantown village. These properties were not purchased free and clear; rather, the three men were hereditary leaseholders,15 hence the annual quitrent, an obligation which was discontinued in 1706 by Mathias van Bebber, who had purchased Sipman’s interests.16

The land transactions took place while the three men were waiting for “the first good wind”17 to carry them to Pennsylvania by way of England. While in England they received a visit from the elderly George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who wanted to meet these “Germaine frids [Friends] yt were going to pensilvania”18.

The “Germaine frids” and their families (consisting of a wife and three children in Hans Peter’s case) went to Pennsylvania aboard the Francis and Dorothy. The ship landed at Philadelphia in mid-October, 1685, and the three families settled in Germantown.19 It turned out that their 50-acre “lots for dwelling” were to be in two pieces. Twenty-five acres were in Germantown proper and 25 were in “Krisheim” (named after Umbstatt’s, Schumacher’s, and Hendricks’s home village in the Rhineland), an area of German Township newly opened to settlement just northwest of Germantown. Moreover, their 25 acres in Germantown village were split between ten acres on the main road (now Germantown Avenue) and 15 acres of “sideland” near the border with Plymouth Township. Umbstatt found himself to be the owner of Lot 13 on the southwest side of the road in Germantown and Lot ten in Krisheim. In Germantown, Schumacher was his next-door neighbor on lot 14 and Hendricks was just across the road on Lot 8. In 1689 the Germantown settlers drew lots for unsold land in Krisheim, and in this manner Umbstatt gained another hundred acres.20 Later that year he bought 25 acres of land adjoining that which he already had in Germantown, giving him about 20 acres in the village and about 30 acres of sideland. Following is a brief contemporary description of Germantown as it looked in its early years:

“Through the entire settlement runs a broad road about 60 feet wide bordered with peach trees. Along this main street lie the individual houses, all of which feature three-acre vegetable and flower gardens.”21

Umbstatt and Schumacher, along with Wilhelm Rettinghausen, were among the 60-odd foreigners naturalized on 7 May 1691 (See The Naturalization of 1691.). Hans Peter Umbstatt’s signature is among those of 263 Pennsylvania freemen on a 1692 petition against a proposed tax bill.22 After advising their adherents to refuse to pay taxes in the Old World, the Quakers were now proposing a tax of their own! The freemen’s petition was seemingly unsuccessful, because in the next year, the property of the 52 adult male Germantown residents was assessed and taxed for the first time. Hans Peter’s holdings were assessed at £100 for which he was taxed 8 shillings 4 pence. Only five of the settlers had higher assessments than Hans Peter’s.23

In 1694 Hans Peter sold his original 25 acres in Krisheim to Henry Sellers, who owned adjacent land. The remaining 150 acres of his 200-acre land purchase in Rotterdam had never been located; rather, it was described merely as being “in Pennsylvania”24. Meanwhile, Dirck Sipman, from whom he had bought the 200 acres in Rotterdam, despaired of enticing any more settlers to Penn’s colony and sold his interest to Mathias van Bebber, a Dutch merchant who came to the New World in 1687. Van Bebber bought additional parcels from various settlers, including Hans Peter Umbstatt’s never-located 150 acres25, until he had more than 6000 acres, or 10 square miles. He then had a tract laid out a few miles to the northwest of German Township, on Skippack Creek, the first significant watercourse in that direction. These lands were known for many years as “Bebber’s Township”; they correspond roughly to modern Skippack Township in Montgomery (formerly Philadelphia) County. Van Bebber sold parcels of varying size to new settlers, mostly Mennonites like himself, and he donated 100 acres for a Mennonite meetinghouse. He never lived in his namesake township, but went on to develop Bohemia Manor in Cecil County, Maryland. Among the very first to settle in Bebber’s Township (in 1702) was Hans Peter’s son Johannes Umbstatt, who bought 204 acres bisected by Skippack Creek. In the next few years my ancestors Andrew Schrager, Jacob Kolb, and Michael Ziegler settled in the opposite corner of Bebber’s Township.26

According to Hull’s “William Penn and the Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania”,27 Hans Peter was a “weighmaster”, “one who manages a weighing house; especially one who is licensed as public weigher”28. Hull may have had the same source as a curious handwritten German document29 that appears to say Wagmeister and Wagemeister in different places. Cris Hueneke, the ostensible master of the Umstead website, has translated this as “wagonmaker (master carriage/wagon maker - probably)”. The modern German word Waagemeister means “one who weighs, public weigher”, wherereas Wagenmeister means “wagon inspector”. Take your pick; I would tend to go with “weighmaster”. However, in all the deeds I’ve seen quoted, where an occupation is noted, Hans Peter Umbstatt is called simply a “husbandman”, or farmer. One source, however, says he was also a weaver.30

In later life Umbstatt is said to have owned land in Limerick Township, northwest of Bebber’s Township.31 His wife Barbara died in 1702. Hans Peter was still “of Germantown” according to 1706 and 1710deeds.32 In 1710 he sold his 50 acres in Germantown, including his house, barn and stable.33 Hans Peter died some time after 1711. He and Barbara were buried somewhere east of Skippack Creek in today’s Montgomery County, PA, but their gravesites have become lost or obliterated with time.34 Hans Peter probably spent his last days at the home of his son John or his son-in-law Heinrich Pannebecker, both of whom had moved to Bebber’s (now Skippack) Township in 170235.


1 Sears (RW db); Rochelle (RW db); Helvy (RW db); Brian (RW db); Miller (RW db); Stacer (RW db); “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter’s Bible” at the Umstead website; Pennypacker Mills (ws).

2 Ruth (1984), p 25.

3 Ibid, p 26.

4 Cris Hueneke, “Krefeld - Root of a Myth” at the Umstead website.

5 Ruth (1984), p 30–31.

6 Ibid, p 36–37; Hull (1935), p 262.

7 Ruth (1984), p 37, citing Paul Michel, “Täufer, Mennoniten und Quäker in Kriegsheim bei Worms [Baptists, Mennonites and Quakers in Kriegsheim near Worms]”, Der Wormsgau [The Worms Area], VII (1965–66), p 44 (“Sonderdruck aus ‘Der Wormsgau’ Siebenter Band [Reprint from ‘Der Wormsgau’ Volume Seven]”).

8 Item 4337, folios 40 and 42 at the Generallandesarchiv, Karlsruhe, Germany; I found them at “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Schmal Docs & Kriegsheim Menn-Quakers” > “1684 Letter regarding the Quakers document 4337/40 - written in July” and “1684 ‘Hochgebohrner’ document 433/42 - written in August”at the Umstead website, translated by Lou and Cris Hueneke.

9 e.g., [as noted by Cris Hueneke in “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter Umstatt Bibliography” at the Umstead website] 1) Pennypacker (1880). This early work of Pennypacker’s shows Hans Peter Umstadt arriving from Crefeld, p 22. He is not mentioned otherwise. 2) Pennypacker (1899). (p 128) “October 12, 1685, there arrived in the ship ‘Francis and Dorothy’ . . . Hans Peter Umstat, from Crefeld, with his wife Barbara, his son, John, and his daughters, Anna Margaretta and Eve.”

10 Wilhelm Hubben, Die Quäker in der Deutschen Vergangenheit [Quakers in the German Past], Quäker-Verlag, Leipzig, 1929, p 71. Translated by Lou and Cris Hueneke, “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter Umstatt BIBLIOGRAPHY” > “1929 Hubben” at the Umstead website.

11World History at KMLA: History of the Palatinate—Pfalz, 1648–1742”; “Karl II. Pfalz” [Wikipedia article in German]; “Philipp Wilhelm (Pfalz)” [Wikipedia article in German]; “Stammtafel der pfälzischen Wittelsbacher” [in German]; “Pfalz-Neuberg” [Wikipedia article in German].

12 Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany: 1648–1840, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1964; “Mainz im Pfälzischen Erbfolgekrieg von 1689” [in German].

13 “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “1685 Hans Peter KRIEGSHEIM Passport” at the Umstead website, citing “Adolph Scherrer, a Monsheim area historian”.

14 The actual passport requests are at the Generallandesarchiv, Karlsruhe, Germany. I found them in the original German and in translation in “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “1685 Hans Peter KRIEGSHEIM Passport” at the Umstead website.

15 Duffin (1990) and Duffin (1992) cited in “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter Umstatt BIBLIOGRAPHY” > “1990 Duffin” and “1992 Duffin” at the Umstead website.

16 Duffin (1990), p 65; cited at the Umstead website.

17 Pennypacker (1880), p 22; Strassburger (1922), p 384–385, also extensively cited at “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “1685 Hans Peter ROTTERDAM Deed” at the Umstead website.

18 Strassburger (1922), p 384.

19 “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “1685 Hans Peter ROTTERDAM Deed” > “Hans Peter’s Germantown Deeds” at the Umstead website; citing Cook (1948); and Elizabeth Madison Coles Umstattd, UMSTADT: The Rhine to Skippack & Beyond—The Route of a German Settler’s Family, privately published, Villanova, PA, 1999.

20 Marion D Learned, Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius, Founder of Germantown, Wm J Campbell, Philadelphia, 1908, p 137–138; cited in “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter Umstatt BIBLIOGRAPHY” > “1908 Learned” at the Umstead website.

21 Friedrich Nieper, Die ersten deutschen Auswanderer von Krefeld nach Pennsylvanien: Ein Bild aus der religiösen Ideengeshichte des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts [The First German Emigrants from Krefeld to Pennsylvania: A Picture of the History of Religious Ideas in the 17th and 18th Centuries], Neukirchen: Buchhandlung des Erziehungsverein Newkirchen Kreis Moers, 1940 (probably quoting writings of Francis Daniel Pastorius, early Germantown leader); cited in “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter Umstatt BIBLIOGRAPHY” > “1940 Nieper” at the Umstead website.

22 Fry and Ulmer (1965), cited in “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter Umstatt BIBLIOGRAPHY” > “1965 Fry/Ulmer” at the Umstead website; “Early Landowners, Citizens, etc, of Philadelphia, Pa, 1683, 1692, 1698, Census of 1720–30”, National Genealogical Society Quarterly v 14, n 4 (Dec 1925), p 49, 57 cited in “1685 Hans Peter Umstat” > “Hans Peter Umstatt BIBLIOGRAPHY” > “1925 National Genealogical Society Quarterly” at the Umstead website .

23 Fry and Ulmer (1965).

24 Duffin (1992).

25 Ibid; Cook (1948).

26 Detweiler (1992), p 3, 4, 6, 10, 26, 30, 31–32; Heckler (1895–96), p 2–4.

27 Hull (1935), p 406.

28 Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, 2nd edition; Simon and Schuster, New York, 1983.

29 Described in note 2 on Anna Margaretta UMBSTATT’s page.

30 Duffin (1992); Shaffer (RW db).

31 Johnson and Bergey (1934), p 71.

32 Duffin (1992).

33 Cook (1948).

34 Johnson and Bergey (1934), loc cit.

35 Hull (1935). Background pattern from Absolute Background Textures