PART 4 of 5
Mathias Slaymaker was born Mathias Schleyermacher in 1670 in Hesse Kassel, Strasburg, Germany/France. It was one of those European cities that changed to the hands of the victor in each of many wars. The spelling also appears as Schleiremacher in some documents. Mathias died as a Slaymaker on November 25, 1762 in Gap, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He lies buried in the Old Leacock Church Cemetery, Lancaster County. His headstone can be found amid row after row of Slaymaker ancestors who lived their lives in Lancaster.
Mathias, by all accounts was the brother of Daniel Schleyermacher. That would make Mathias an uncle to Johann Schlieremacher and a great uncle to Frederich. While Daniel was struggling with Elias Eller (see a previous blog) Mathias was maintaining his distance. At the time that Daniel was accused of heresy, Mathias was settled into his new digs in Pennsylvania. The journey from Old World Europe to New World Pennsylvania was like moving from Hell to Heaven for his family and fellow migrant friends.
In 1685 King Louis XIV (The Sun King) revoked the Edict of Nantes, and eliminated religious freedom. Protestants had to convert to the Roman Catholic Church. Those who did would be financially rewarded. Those who did not convert were persecuted and not allowed to leave the country. The King then sent soldiers to all towns and villages to kill the Protestants and confiscate their properties. Daniel Ferree and his wife Marie escaped to Germany. Ferree was a prosperous silk manufacturer, a French Huguenot (Protestant) and a member of Normandy’s nobility. It is believed that Daniel Ferree died while the family lived in Strasburg. Some historians believe he was slain during the insurrection in France following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
After Daniel Ferree’s death his wife, Marie, assumed her maiden name for reasons of safety. 3. While in Strasburg the widow and her seven children had become close friends of the young Mathias Schleyermacher and his wife, Catherine. The two families, both well to do, moved from Strasburg to Lindau, Bavaria. Word of an investment opportunity in the New World was sweeping through the upper crust of European society. A Britain by the name of William Penn was selling his rich farm land in the New World at a low cost. The financial aspect was nice but Penn’s land owners were also offered political asylum, freedom of religion and opportunity.
On March 10, 1708, the two families were granted passports by the Bavarian Civil Service to immigrate via Holland and England to Pennsylvania. They were members of the Reformed Walloon Church, and described as professors of “the Pure Reformed Religion.” They moved from the burned-out landscape of Bavaria to Rotterdam and then on to Spitalfields, London, England.
Making it safely to London was only the first step in the journey of the Ferree-Schleyermacher entourage. They had to convince William Penn that they were worthy investors. Madame Ferree and Mathias were the financiers, the lead players around whom poorer emigrants gathered. Madame Ferree was an able spokesman for her group. She convinced Penn’s agents that she was a legitimate buyer. The agents arranged an interview. Marie would meet Penn at his London estate. The widow was impressive and Penn impressed. But he was not the person calling the final shots. Anyone dealing with Penn and the London Company was ultimately dealing with the Queen of England. Penn petitioned Queen Anne for an audience. The meeting occurred on August 27, 1708. Apparently the good Queen was blown away by a woman of such presence as the Lady Marie. After only one meeting she granted Madame Ferree and all 54 members of the Ferree-Schleyermacher party permission to colonize in America. This was a coup back in the day!
London Company deeds, also known as patents, were the means by which our wealthy ancestors (Davis and Smith, as examples) secured their foot in the door in America. Less fortunate ancestors might come as servants, indentured to a master like Mathias Schleyermacher and Mary Ferree. The less wealthy might acquire 100 acres and add to their property in time. Such growth of property holdings was recorded in county records (deeds) we can still find, providing they weren’t burned in a war time event. William Penn’s holdings in the new world, encompassed a state or two. He assigned large parcels to middle men and those ‘subcontractors’ subdivided their holdings for sale. Martin Kendig sold Ferree’s entourage a 4,000 acre tract of his land grant in the Pequea Valley (Lancaster). Schleyermacher would hold 1,000 of those 4,000 acres.
Kendig was one of many agents serving Penn. He would take a commission like any good sales rep once the buyer took possession. In this case, the surveyor had to complete the land survey and subdivision of what would become an entire state, Pennsylvania. Kendig only had to convince Penn that the buyer was “Godly and able to come across with the money.” Penn had already and personally made that decision regarding Ferree and Schleyermacher.
The survey would take two years. Ferree and Schleyermacher decided that they would cross the Atlantic and proceed up the Hudson River to a Huguenot colony at Esopus. When the survey was completed in Pennsylvania, they would pay Kendig and move to their final destination in the Pequa Valley.
Next up ? When Schleyermachers become Slaymakers
- The Pennsylvania LeFevres, George Newton LeFevre
- History of Lancaster Co.
- The Louis Du Bois Family History, on file at the York County Historical & Genealogical Society in York, Pa.
- The Story of the Feree Family, Emory Schuyler Ferree
- Captive’s Mansion by S. R. Slaymaker II Harper & Row, NY 1973