White Chimneys

PART 5 of 5

In September, 1708, Mathias Slaymaker, his wife Catherine (Sciebell) and their two children (Lawrence and Margaret) boarded the ship Lyon, and left London behind. Madame Ferree and the colony of 54 would spend 6 weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Despite their wealth they lived on a ration of hard biscuits, salted fish and pickled pork just as any sea worthy pirate would do. The smell of brine, the sound of the rigging stirred by the ocean breeze, the lack of privacy would be the comfort of life on a sailing vessel.

The village they were sailing toward, Esopus, was about 90 miles north of present day New York City. Esopus would serve as the capital of the York Colony during the Revolutionary War. When the Lyon turned its’ back on the Long Island Sound and headed north up the Hudson River the immigrants found the landscape similar to their homeland. familiar. The scenery resembled the steep wooded hills of their beloved Rhine River Valley in Prussia (Germany), minus the castles.

For two years these immigrants waited at Esopus. The Pequea Valley land survey was finally completed in 1710. As the ice retreated on the Hudson River in early spring Slaymaker and company sailed downstream to the Atlantic, and south along the ocean shoreline to the mouth of the Delaware River. As they sailed up the Delaware they passed the New Castle home of one of my great grandfathers, John Andersson Stilley (grandson of Olof Stilley). Olof’s patent and the Swedish colony of Kristine’s One Hundred had been operating in the New World since 1641, on the shore of the Delaware. The Stilley’s were already into their third and fourth generation of living in the New World. They had participated in the reorganization of the land under Swedish, then Dutch and now English rule.  Like the Slaymakers, the Stilleys had already changed the spelling of their surname two or three times in order to assimilate in a melting pot.

When Mary Ferree and her friends put into the port of  Philadelphia, they found a market booming with activity: dairy cattle, sheep, oxen, and horses were everywhere; all descendant from the original Swedish stock. The retail shops were thriving and provided the staples of life needed in the cupboard of pioneer families: hardware, smoked meats, flour. James Logan, Penn’s agent in Philadelphia, ‘handed over the keys’ to the 4,000 acre tract of land the Ferrees and Slaymakers would call home in the Pequea Valley.

The Pequea Valley patent comprised lands 60 miles to the west of Philadelphia and the Delaware River estuary. The Ferree-Slaymaker caravan of various wagons headed out of Philadelphia on Penn’s road (now known as Lincoln Highway 30). The road extended through Chester County to the Gap in the Hills (now Gap, PA). Here it intersected the trading road running south to New Castle, Delaware (now Highway 41). By 1710 the Conestoga Road road from Philadelphia carved a southwesterly path through the woods to the Susquehanna River.

Mathias and Catherine Slaymaker settled into their 1,000 acre farm in June, 1712. Two hundred miles to the south in Kinsale, Virginia, Peter Smith was acquiring 1,100 acres of his deceased brother James’ estate. Across the Chesapeake Bay from Kinsale, William Whittington was celebrating his fourth marriage in Northampton, VA. I haven’t found anyone in our family tree that tops four marriages. Unless we count Mormon pioneer Brigham Young and his 55 wives.  He is found in the family tree.

Mathias Slaymaker’s original log cabin was built close to a large spring on the farm. The home still exists with numerous additions. It is located on the north side of U. S. Route 30 at Vintage, two miles west of White Chimneys. Nancy actually knocked on the door on a visit we made through Pennsylvania, years ago. No one was home. It was fun trying!

white chimneys

 Mathias was naturalized Oct. 14, 1729. There is a transcription of the document which reads in part:

  • WHEREAS, … diverse Protestants, who were subjects to the Emperor of Germany, …. transported themselves and estates into the province of Pennsylvania, … and since they came hither have contributed very much to the enlargement of the British Empire …
  • BE IT ENACTED That … Mathias Slaymaker…. shall be…..His Majesty’s natural born subject of this province of Pennsylvania …

Mathias Slaymaker had an excellent German education. He was recognized as a man of gigantic stature and great strength, as were his sons. Such qualities won the respect of neighbors and numerous Indians in the neighborhood. Mathias lies buried at the old Leacock Presbyterian church, in Leacock township. He left five sons, Lawrence, Matthias, John, Henry and Daniel; and two daughters, Margaret and Barbara.

Resources:

  • The Pennsylvania LeFevres by George Newton LeFevre History of Lancaster Co., PA.
  • Louis Du Bois Family History
  • The Story of the Feree Family by Emory Schuyler Ferree
  • Captive’s Mansion by S. R. Slaymaker II
  • Rupp’s “History of Lancaster County”
  • Biographical History of Lancaster County Pennsyvania
  • White Chimneys, Houseful of Our History