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As one becomes more deeply involved in his family's genealogy, the cold records can become living guideposts to be assembled into a contemporary concept of who those earlier people really were. Inasmuch as the LeFevre family in France were killed because of their Protestant Christian beliefs, that faith of our early LeFevres must have been very real, bringing forth many new facets to their lives.
One should stop to reaIize what 16 year old Isaac LeFevre experienced in the blood bath he saw with has own eyes when his parents and brothers and sisters were slaughtered in 1685 in their home by the soldiers from the Roman Catholic state. His religious convictions must have registered heavily enough upon him so that he gathered up his family Bible. He took it with him as a momento or symbol of his beloved family as he hastily fled his native and familiar country to be traded for a foreign land. That was the Bible printed in 1608 in the French language in Calvin's Geneva. Just possessing such a Bible could bring instant death in France at that time.
That he was finally taken in as an orphan by the Daniel Ferree family, also Huguenots and also fleeing their native land leaving behind all their own prized possessions, is a matter of historical record. We don't know exactly where they met, but it is believed to have been near Strasbourg. Isaac's family were most likely very modest, probably workers in agriculture and vine growers and dressers. That's what the English noted on Isaac's listing for instruments to be provided by England's Queen Anne for her first boat load of new settlers for her new country. He was listed as a vine dresser.
The Daniel Ferree family (Fiere, Fire, etc.) were more likely from a much wealthier background, for Daniel was described as a wealthy silk manufacturer. He and his family had come under the heel of the French government because he was a professing Huguenot, a despised Protestant in that Roman Catholic comitted country. Instead of merely killing them as the soldiers had done to the LeFevres, it is believed they dragooned the Ferrees, sending a large band of perhaps 20 soldiers to live in their home. Usually under such circumstances the homes were upset, furniture broken, women desecrated, food taken or destroyed -- all in an effort to force the Huguenots to give up their Protestant religion and return to the Roman Catholic church. The Ferrees chose not to obey the soldiers. Instead they departed under cover of night, leaving all their possessions behind, and fleeing for their lives to depart their native country. That near part of Germany at that time was under the control of Lutheran Protestants, having been sold to them by Mad Ludwig to try to pay for the exorbitant castles he built for himself.
So together, the Ferrees and Isaac LeFevre fled to the small town of Steinweiler in the mayoralty of Bittingham very likely about 1686, or within a year or so of fleeing their homes in France. This town was on the west side of the Rhine River, southwest of Mannheim and Heidelberg yet northeast of Karlsruhe. To help set the dates, Daniel Ferree was born in France circa 1650, and died in Germany circa 1708 before his family left for America. Circa 1669 he married Maria Warembauer born in France 1653, and died in Pennsylvania 1716.
Among the Ferree family keepsakes is a church letter giving permission for them to leave for America. It was written on behalf of the pastor and elders of the Reformed Walloon Church of Pelican in the Palatinate of Germany. It was dated 5/10/1708 and granted permission for Daniel Ferree (son) and wife Anne Marie Leininger and their family to leave with their church's blessings. Records for the childrens' baptisms were included. Andrew Ferree was baptised in the Steinweiler Church 9/28/1701, sponsors being Andrew Leininger and wife Margaret. John Ferree was baptised 2/8/1703 in the church at Rhorbac with sponsors Abraham Ptillian and Judith Miller, both of Steinweiller. Though no such record for Isaac LeFevre, wife Catherine Ferree and son Abraham is known to exist, it would seem logical to believe they, too, had a similar church letter. They were so closely related, and were surely together members of the same Protestant Reformed Church there.
Perhaps one should here consider what differences there were in the early European Protestant churches. The Roman Catholic Church had become quite corrupt, selling indulgences for money for permission to commit certain sins. The Catholic church had also become almost synonymous with the civil government of the land. They wished to keep the Bible in the Latin vulgate, a language unknown to most of the populace. That way the priests could interpret it any way it suited their fancy to meet their own ends. Their argument was that only the clergy, the educated people, could understand and interpret the Bible. As part of the Reformation the Bible was translated into the native local language, and that opened up the wide differences in what the priests had said and what the Bible actually taught. Hence, the civil government became so intensely caught up in trying to enforce only Roman Catholic church membership.
Having been a Roman Catholic priest, Martin Luther set out only to make drastic changes to his church, chiefly to do away with the selling of indulgences, and to get the Bible into the language of the people, not to start another church. He stressed direct access to God, not necessary to go through a priest. So in the Lutheran tradition the worship service followed fairly closely the old rigid and formal liturgy, and to some degree still does today. Luther translated the Bible into the German language, a translation still used by groups having their roots in the German Reformation. That is true today for the Amish and Mennonite congregations. A church hierarchy was retained, through bishops and synods to carry out the wishes of the House of Bishops into whose hands the Lutheran faith is entrusted.
In England because Henry VIII got himself into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church because of his wild and licentious mode of living, he just solved the problem by divorcing England from the Roman influence, and started a new church under his own domination. This is the Anglican Church, literally the English Church. Thus the aim was merely to establish a similar church along the same lines as the older one, but obedient to King Henry VIII which would allow him to do as he pleased, and still have his church's blessing. In America this church is called the Protestant Episcopal Church, named after the episcopacy, the chain of command down from a bishop to the local church. The order of worship in the church service is highly liturgical, engaging mostly priests in the activity of the service, keeping the congregation largely as onlookers and observers. This was a strong tenet of the Roman Catholic Church as well, and was easily carried into the old Anglican tradition. Wycliff translated the Latin Bible into the English language, but the King James version is the one most used and most loved by the past generations. The Methodist Church was formed by John and Charles Wesley, Anglican priests, because they felt the Anglican church had become blind to many of the rampant social ills of that day. They had no intent to produce a new church, only to revitalize their own Anglican Church. Thus the Methodist order of worship tends to follow the formal, more ritualistic Anglican order of service. They were so methodical in their endeavors, they were finally called Methodists.
John Calvin along with Zwingli went to Geneva, Switzerland, made his own translation of the Bible into the French language, organized a new Reformed Church, led by seminary trained ministers, but also governed the church by elders selected from the congregation as ruling elders who shared church authority with the ministers. This was a new Reformed idea. Calvin's group flooded many thousands of his French language Bibles all over France, making it one of the very strong reasons for the religious awakening in France. It was one of these Bibles that the LeFevre family had, and which Isaac LeFevre brought along to America. Today it can be seen at the Lancaster County Historical Society. Calvin's influence also extended into Scotland where John Knox with Calvin's emphasis on a strong idea of predestination started the Presbyterian Church, literally a church governed by the presbytery whose members are regarded as having equal right and function. The order of worship was quite distinctly different, less formal and much more free than others, yet with majesty and logical procession from one thought to another.
The term Walloon in the Reformed Church in Germany referred largely to French people who had been heavily influenced by the Germans, especially in the so called low countries of Flanders, Luxembourg and Belgium. The language and custom might have been Germanic. It is known that the New York LeFevres were Walloons. They had helped settle New Paltz, New York with Louis DuBois, known as Louis the Walloon who established the Huguenot related Walloon Reformed Church in New Paltz. And the Daniel Ferree and Isaac LeFevre families came under that influence both in Germany and again in New York. However, it is this writer's conviction Isaac LeFevre wasn't thoroughly a Walloon. He preferred the French language, as evidenced by the fact his notes in the LeFevre Bible were in French, as well the notations of the birth of each of his children in French, even long after he had arrived in America. The French Huguenot influence seemed to have been dominant.
Concerning infant baptism there were several views. The Roman Catholic Church demanded infant baptism as necessary for salvation. There are stories of large mounds in some Catholic cemeteries where unbaptised babies were heaped together, outcasts of the Christian faith. The Reformed Churches saw infant baptism, customarily by sprinkling, as a sacrament of dedication of the child to the Christian faith as part of the covenant peoples as described in the Old Testament. Then when a child arrived at the age of accountability he could then make his public Christian profession and be considered as having been confirmed for full membership in the church body. Some churches described an individual having been baptised as an infant as being in "full connection" when he made his confession and became a church member. The Anabaptists, Amish and Mennonites were originally from Switzerland, later from the Palatinate of Germany. They refused infant baptism, requiring a child to wait until he reached the age of accountability, usually about 12 years old, to make his public Christian confession and then immediately be baptised by immersion or pouring, but never by mere sprinkling. In fact, Anabaptists in Switzerland were persecuted by the Roman Catholics because they were Protestants, and by the Calvin Reformed church because they refused infant baptism and willingness to bear arms. So then they fled to nearby South Germany, from which many of them fled to America, principally to Pennsylvania where they were assured more freedom.
In summary, the LeFevres were French Huguenots, encouraged in the Reformation by the Calvin group in Switzerland, and when persecuted they fled to Germany where they became members of the local Protestant Walloon Reformed Church so akin to their Huguenot Church.
When the Ferrees and the LeFevres arrived in New York in 1709 there was an already existing Dutch Reformed Church awaiting them both in New Amsterdam (New York City) and in Kingston, not far from New Paltz. When Philip LeFevre was born the New Paltz Walloon Reformed church was without a minister, so they journeyed to Kingston for his baptism. Domine Petrus Vas was the minister for that baptism April 1,1710. Witnesses were Isaak and Rachel Duboy (DuBois). When the group arrived in Pennsylvania the fall of 1712 there were very few people in the area, and of course, no churches. It is believed they conducted worship services within their homes, including the reading of the Scriptures from the French language Bible, prayers, a brief devotional talk by one of the elders, and the singing of hymns and psalms such as were printed in the LeFevre Bible. This constituted the Reformed tradition.
Also having arrived in Pennsylvania in 1710, two years earlier, were a group of Mennonites frorn Switzerland. Principally the group consisted of Christian and Hans Herr who conducted worship services in their manner in their homes. Eventually the minister Christian Herr built a stately stone house after German architecture in 1717, and put his initials on the lintel over the doorway. And this is where the group met for their Sunday worship every Sunday. It is of interest to note the Herrs had settled only a short distance, a couple miles, from where the Ferrees and LeFevres took up their warrant or deed for 2000 acres from the same Martin Kindig who sold the Herrs their land. There were also some German Lutherans who had arrived in the area, and they were forced to worship in their homes because they had no church building.
The Old Dutch Church in the Beaver Creek valley, also called Beaver Creek Congregation is one of the county's oldest shared union churches by the Reformed and Lutheran congregations. It was built of logs about 20 feet square with the door facing west and the small cemetery at the bottom of the hill. Today that is on Rt. 896 at Iva Road. The oldest notation for the Reformed Church is in German language an infant baptism of Catherine born 9/l/1740 and baptised 5/31/1741, daughter of Henry and Esther Eckman. The next is infant baptism 2/25/1744 for Johannes, son of Johannes and Maria Eckman.
The earliest record for the Lutherans is in Lancaster County Historical Society Volume 9, p 179, "On 5/1/1730 the Lutheran Pastor Johann Casper Stoever baptised children at Millcreek, Pequea and Beber Creek." Historian Clyde L. Groff also discovered in archives of Trinity Lutheran Church of New Holland: "On 3/23/1746 William Phillipse had six children baptised at the Dedication of the Beber Krick Church". While the baptism is not so important, it suggests the date of the new church building but not of the beginning of the congregation. There are records of two civil weddings by justices of the peace in 1739, probably because there were no ministers available out in the country area. "This much is certain: that before a house of worship could be erected a congregation must have been in existence, and further, that before that congregation assumed a definite organization the Reformed people held religious meetings in their homes", thus said Pastor Shepherdson at a church anniversary of Zion Reformed church in 1921. After the structure was completed, it is said the Reformed group used it only for special occasions and for Communion, whereas the Lutherans used it regularly each Sunday until about 1795 when the Lutherans built the new St. Michael's Lutheran Church edifice in nearby Strasburg. The Reformed group built a new stone church near New Providence, and called it the Zion German Reformed Church. Both groups had had their early roots shared in the old log Dutch Church.
Some have thought that this Old Dutch Church may be the one referred to by Rev. Conrad Templeman who wrote in a letter to Holland deputies February 1733 in reference to a Reformed congregation near Lancaster. He said, "This church took its origin at Conestoga with a small gathering here and there in houses with the reading of a sermon and singing and praying according to the German Reformed Church order upon all Sundays and holidays."
October 11, 1921 the Reverend Harry E. Shepherdson,
pastor of Zion Reformed Church at New Providence gave the historical sermon
as part of an Anniversary of their church. It is preserved by having been
published by the Quarryville Sun, a copy available at the Lancaster County
But the custom of sharing a common "Union"
church building by the Reformed and the Lutherans is described more as
a rule than the exception in Lancaster and Berks Counties, typically settled
by those of German extraction, commonly called Pennsylvania Dutch. This
extensive quote is taken from a book titled "The Pennsylvania Dutch" by
Frederic Kleer, 1952, taken from pages 72-74:
Circa 1795 the Lutherans built a new edifice in Strasburg, naming it St. Michael's Lutheran Church. The Reformed Church built a new stone edifice near New Providence, the Zion Reformed Church. Apparently, many of those early Christians liked to go to larger churches for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Therefore, many of these early records are contained in First Reformed Church records of Lancaster, approximately seven miles distant, and other churches as well. It was a necessity for some denominations to have a pastor serve more than one congregation, often one in a larger city and another one or two in smaller locales. It is the early records of these congregations that yield up many of the bare facts for this study.
There is a gnawing question as to the exact identity of the wife of Philip LeFevre, blacksmith and gunsmith, the second son of Isaac and Catherine LeFevre. The standard Herr family genealogy says Christian Herr's daughter Maria was married to someone else other than a LeFevre. But in the rear of the volume under title of Errata, errors, it is noted that "current researchers believe she was married to Philip LeFevre." THE PENNSYLVANIA LEFEVRES book indicates her as Philip's wife. The Herrs were all Mennonites, and very devout in their faith. They did not believe in infant baptism. Philip's background was Reformed. He had been baptised as an infant in 1710 in Kingston Old Dutch Reformed Church.
The geographical proximity is very close. The Christian Herr House is on Hans Herr Drive, just west of Rt. 222, a short distance South of Willow Street. The 350 acre tract Isaac LeFevre had purchased for use by his son Philip is also on Rt. 222, at Gypsy hill Road. The two properties, Herr and LeFevre, had a common boundry between the two tracts. They lived less than a mile apart. Did Philip join the Mennonites, or did Mary join the Reformed group? Unfortunately for us, the librarian at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society informs us the Mennonites did not keep written records of their adult baptism or church memberships until circa 1905. Also unfortunately, the early Reformed Church records do not reveal Philip or Mary's names. But indeed those records do reveal the names of several of Philip's grandchildren being presented for infant baptism by his children. This tends to indicate the continuation of the Reformed tradition among those families, rather than a Mennonite tradition of only adult baptisms. Philip died unexpectedly at age 56, so he died intestate. But the Orphan's Court record of his estate settlement definitely named his widow as "the widow Mary". The brutal fact is that we may never know positively which church Philip and Mary attended. And of course, we do not have positive proof Philip's wife was Mary Herr, only that her name was Mary, believed to be Herr.
For Baptism Records see APPENDIX A
It is known that Catherine Ferree LeFevre's brother Daniel Ferree and wife Anna Maria Leininger were members of the Walloon Reformed Church in Pelican, Palatinate of Germany in 5/10/1708, when they were granted a church letter to move to Pennsylvania. Probably they had been members for perhaps as long as 20 years before that. Though no document is known today for Isaac LeFevre and his family, it would certainly seem that Daniel Ferree's sister and her husband would have been eligible, for they were there during the same period of time. They were certainly of the same church connection.
They arrived in New York City January 1, 1709. Sometime the following Spring they moved from the Newburgh colony site offered them by England's Queen Anne as part of her deal with them to settle her new country. Because of dissension that broke out within that colony, the Ferrees and LeFevres went farther north up the Hudson River to New Paltz, New York, just a very few miles south of Kingston, New York. While living there on 3/16/1710 the second child was born to Catherine and Isaac LeFevre, and the New Paltz Church was without a minister at that time. So they journeyed to Kingston where in the Old Dutch Reformed Church Domine Petrus Vas baptised young infant Philip 4/1/1711. Witnesses were French friends Isaak and Rachel Duboy (DuBois). This baptism would seem to indicate their preferred church connection was still to the Reformed Church.
Very likely they were part of the organizing group who started the Pequea Congregation of the Reformed Church in the small log "union church," built just to the southern boundry of their tracts, the Old Dutch Church, or went to Lancaster churches. Such were the very likely church experiences that were open to them in these early years in Pennsylvania. The oldest records of these churches have been searched for any records of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so we can to try to glean what their church preferences were.
Special gratitude must be expressed to George Newton LeFevre and Franklin D. Lefever for their book entitled THE PENNSYLVANIA LEFEVRES, and for the unique manner their numbering system employed, making it easy to identify so many of the family by name and birth date, thereby giving access to their genealogy.
Isaac LeFevre died October 1, 1751 in Lancaster, Pa., and is believed to be buried with his wife, Catherine Ferree LeFevre, in graves beside her mother, Madam Marie Warambauer Ferree, in Carpenter's Cemetery on Black Horse Road at the Strasburg Railroad in Paradise, Pa. Isaac's will was recorded in Will Book J, volume 1, at page 135, located in the Lancaster County Court Archives in Lancaster, Pa.
Abraham LeFevre, the oldest son, had been born in Germany and came with the family from New Paltz to Pennsylvania as a young child. His father Isaac had purchased a 300 acre tract for him. Today that is on North Star Road, just north of Strasburg. Abraham had two sons, John and Peter. When Abraham died 11/20/1735 at the young age of 29, father Isaac on the back of the sheepskin warrant (deed from Penn) signed over that 300 acre tract to his grandsons John and Peter. It must have been a sad occasion. For this only son who had made the voyage with them from Europe Isaac was required to put up 200£ surety to settle his son's estate. Circa 1728 in Pennsylvania Abraham married Elizabeth Fiere, his first cousin, the daughter of brother-in-law and wife, Daniel Fiere and Anne Marie Leininger Ferree.
Of John LeFevre's children Elizabeth (9-002), Catherine (9-003), Abraham (9-004), and John (9-005) were baptised as infants according to Zion Reformed Church records. Of Peter LeFevre's children Catherine (9-009), and Elizabeth (9-012) were baptised as infants according to Zion Reformed Church records, but Mary (9-010) wife of Peter Eckman was baptised as an adult in 1789 at the First Reformed Church of Lancaster. Marie Eckman, daughter of the above Marie LeFevre Eckman was baptised as an infant at First Reformed Church at Lancaster, too. Additionally, a granddaughter of Peter, Margaret LeFevre (10-009) daughter of Jacob (9-006) and wife Rebecca, son of John (8-001) and Margaret LeFevre was baptised as an infant 8/3/1800 in First Reformed Church in Lancaster.
There are other later LeFevres listed in records of Zion Reformed Church as active participants: Richard G. (14-075), Marion B. (14-077), Margaret N. (14-078), and Mary Catherine (14-081) known today as Kitty LeFevre Yohn. Their brother Roy Park LeFevre (14-083) at age 12 was presented for baptism there In 1931. They were children of Roy R. LeFevre (13-064) who with his parents Martin B. LeFevre (12-032) were members of the Mennonite Church. Their line continues back through David N.(11-016), John (10-002), John (9-005 who had married Elizabeth Howry), John (8-001) to Abraham (7-001). It seems possible the whole line could have been Mennonites, but Kitty knows her grandparents and father were Mennonites until her father and mother were married. Because of their marriage he was ejected from his church because his wife was not of the Mennonite faith. Mrs. Yohn and her husband Henry M. maintain membership in the Lancaster Church of God.
Franklin Dabler Lefever (13-126) is the author of THE PENNSYLVANIA LEFEVRES, a person unusually well versed in things concerning the LeFevre family. He spent his life as an accountant, many years for Ezra Martin swine abbatoire of Lancaster, and has membership in Calvary Independent Church of Lancaster. He is the son of Harry Kreider LeFevre (12-069), Isaac Denlinger LeFevre (11-032), George LeFevre (10-004), John LeFevre (9-005 who had married Elizabeth Howry), John LeFevre (8-001) and Abraham LeFevre (7-001). Franklin is convinced that the Howrys were staunch Mennonites, and his family all the way from John (9-005) and wife Elizabeth Howry were Mennonites, he being the first one of his family to break away from his early Mennonite youth training.
Margaret Esbenshade Tate Lefever, wife 2 of Paul S. Lefever (13-577) is an Esbenshade descendant. She has an Esbenshade genealogy book, "My American Ancestors" by Edward Bowman Esbenshade, 1949, and we reference the following material to pages 480, etc. The type set was by typewriter, and it was published privately. It clarifies two intermarriages with LeFevres, one a blood related daughter, the other a marriage related widowed daughter-in-law.
Daniel Esbenshade 8/11/1765 was born in Germany, arrived in Philadelphia 10/14/1787, married in First Reformed Church of Lancaster 11/13/1792 to Elizabeth LeFevre (9-028, daughter of Adam 8-007) who was born 9/28/1770. Since Daniel Esbenshade became a Mennonite after coming to America, they sought the good services of a related church for their marriage, because the State of Pennsylvania would not recognize marriages conducted by their ministers who were not seminary trained, and thereby not included as marriage officers of the state. He ran a hide tannery business near Paradise. They became progenitors of today's Paradise Turkey Farm Esbenshades, among many others. They are buried in Strasburg Mennonite cemetery, very near the road.
Brother Peter Esbenshade (4/20/1763 - 7/20/1845) was born in Europe, but it isn't known exactly when he arrived in Pennsylvania, although the family tradition says that three brothers with Valentine came together. At any rate he arrived in Paradise, was a shoemaker and circa 1801 married Elizabeth Howry LeFevre, widow of John LeFevre (9-005) who deceased 10/20/1795 at age 35, leaving four small boys ages 1 to 5. The first Esbenshade child born to this union was born 3/3/1803 and named Henry. It is well known the Howrys of Strasburg were staunch Mennonites, but it is not known if husband John LeFevre (9-005) remained Reformed, having been baptised as an infant presented by his parents John and Margaret Henning LeFevre, or whether he accepted the Mennonite faith with its singular dress and mode of life with his marriage. But in any event, the Esbenshade tradition is that Peter Esbenshade, husband 2, did embrace his wife Elizabeth Howry LeFevre's Mennonite faith, and eventually was elected as a very respected Mennonite minister. He was called upon to settle many family estates including that of his Howry father-in-law and many others of the family. He influenced his brother Daniel to accept the Mennonite faith, too. Peter Esbenshade and wife Elizabeth Howry LeFevre Esbenshade are buried side by side in Strasburg Mennonite Cemetery.
According to the librarian of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society the Mennonites kept no written records of membership and adult baptisms until circa 1905. But it is commonly accepted that Peter Esbenshade's son Jacob who moved to Manheim Township, Lancaster County was Mennonite as was his son Jacob Binkley Esbenshade. The wife of Jacob Binkley Esbenshade was Mary Anne Weaver, daughter of Jonathan Weaver of Gordonville and Anne 'Nancy' LeFever (10-144 daughter of Paradise Tanner Dan LeFevre, son of Adam Lefever). She had become a member of the Paradise Leacock Presbyterian Church just a short distance up the road from the Weaver farm. In 1880 she took her church membership by letter from Leacock Presbyterian Church to Lancaster First Presbyterian Church. When son John W. Esbenshade contemplated marriage to a Presbyterian young lady, father Jacob Binkley and son John W. became members of Lancaster First Presbyterian Church on confession of faith and baptism. This was just a year before John W. married Grace E. Miller at the Pequea Presbyterian Church in 1917. In due course their daughter Margaret Worst Esbenshade married the Reverend John David Tate who entered the Presbyterian Ministry from the Lancaster Church until his untimely death in 1969.
Undoubtedly there are other family connections to the Mennonites. Here we trace at least these three families back to John LeFevre (9-005 who married Elizabeth Howry, known strong Mennonite), son of John LeFevre (8-001) son of Abraham LeFevre (7-001) son of immigrant Isaac LeFevre. It seems quite evident that since John and wife Margaret LeFevre (8-001) had their son John (9-005) baptised as an infant, that family were of the Reformed tradition. It is possible John (9-005) accepted the Mennonite faith at his marriage, for it is known his four children as well as the four Esbenshade sons born to his wife in her second marriage all followed the Mennonite tradition. And so did their children for some generations. This would seem to indicate the point these LeFevre descendants under Abraham's line became Mennonites, rather than through Philip's line through his wife Mary, believed to have been Mary Herr from a strong nearby Mennonite family. It is interesting to note the Mellinger's Mennonite Cemetery references are all descendants of three of the four sons of John LeFevre (9-005) and Elizabeth Howry LeFevre. Her four LeFevre sons were known as Mennonites, and her second husband, Peter Esbenshade, embraced her faith, also. All of the Mellinger Cemetery references are to three of those four sons of John LeFevre, Daniel (10-001) John (10-002) and George (10-004). That they are buried in the Mennonite cemetery does not prove they were indeed Mennonites, but the family tradition says they were. These records seem to affirm the tradition.
The forth son, Samuel had been the minister at the Landis Valley Mennonite Church on Rt. 272 at Landis Valley Road in Mannheim Township, and is buried in that church cemetery. It has been said he was removed from his position as minister for being to liberal minded in being willing to associate with people of other denominations!
Philip was born near New Paltz, New York 1710, and came with his family to Pennsylvania in 1712 as an infant. Somewhere he learned the trade of blacksmith and gunsmith, as well as continuing as a tanner. But he died unexpectedly in 1766, only 56 years of age. Though his guns were surely used in the Revolutionary War, he can not be used as a Patriot for DAR or SOR, because he wasn't alive to make a decision on which side to sympathize and fight at the outbreak of the war. He had married a wife named Mary, and many believe she was daughter of nearby Christian Herr of the Hans Herr Mennonite tradition.
In the early records of Lancaster First Reformed Church there are many references to Mecks and Manderbaughs. It would seem likely they were cousins or relatives of sons-in-law who married daughters of Philip and Mary LeFevre, but further research will have to be made for those proofs.
In New Providence Zion Reformed Church's oldest records written in German script are the oldest infant baptism records, believed to have been copied from old family Bible which antedated the formal organization of this church. The oldest of these is for Catherine Eckman b 9/l/1740 and bap 5/3/1741, daughter of Heinrich and Marie Eckman. It is believed Heinrich and Esther also produced a son Heinrich who married Esther LeFevre (8-008), daughter of Philip and Mary LeFevre (7-002). This younger Heinrich or Henry and wife Esther had a number of children which they presented for infant baptism at Zion Reformed and Lancaster First Reformed Churches. The children were Eva, Dorothy, Esther, Heinrich, twins Mary Magdalene and Elizabeth, Isaac, Johannes, and Jacob Eckman.
Older brother to Esther (8-008) was Isaac LeFevre (8-003) and wife Elizabeth whose son John LeFevre (9-013) was baptised as an infant. John's sponsor was Johann Kunkle who is buried in Zion Reformed Church cemetery. A granddaughter Elizabeth (10-036) son of John (9-013) son of Isaac (8-003) was also presented for infant baptism in First Reformed Church, Lancaster, 1791.
Brother George LeFevre (8-005) and wife Anne B. Slaymaker had moved to York, Pa. On 2/3/1762 George and Anne LeFevre presented their first daughter Elizabeth (9-014) for infant baptism at the Canadochly Lutheran Church, Lower Windsor Township, York County. Sponsor was Elizabeth Paules who some three years later became the wife of George's younger brother Adam LeFevre, patriot for DAR and SOR for their descendants. Apparently Adam had met their good family friend, and decided to win her hand and take her back to Lancaster County. George later moved to Dauphin County, but apparently he had influenced his youngest brothher Jacob (8-010), 14 years his junior, to move to York where he established the York County family of LeFevres. When his father Philip (7-002) died in 1766 Jacob was only 13 years of age, and Lancaster County Orphan's Court appointed his father's nephew, John LeFevre (8-001) son of Abraham (7-001) as the guardian of his estate, which reportedly was sizeable. Apparently Philip (7-002) the blacksmith, gunsmith, and tanner, had succeeded quite well in his 56 years!
Sister Catherine LeFevre (8-004) and husband Nicholas Meck had their .Daughter Catherine Meck baptised as an infant in First Reformed Church in Lancaster in l781.
Adam LeFevre (8-007) and wife Elizabeth Paules had a number of their children receive infant baptism including Catherine (9-026), Henry (9-029), Philip (9-033 who became an innkeeper and is ancestor to Paul S. Lefever), George (9-031), John (9-032), Daniel (9-036 who became a tanner in Paradise, and is ancestor to Margaret Esbenshade Lefever), Esther (9-037) and Samuel (9-038). Later generation descendants of Adam who were children of Benjamin and Susan LeFevre (10-115) are recorded at Zion Refornied Church: Benjamin (11-384), john M. (11-385), Musser F. (11-386), Anna Mary (11-387) and Susan (11-388).
Adam LeFevre's son Daniel (9-036, 1783-1852) became a tanner in Paradise and married Esther Witmer, daughter of David Witmer who are buried in Carpenter's Cemetery. Buried in Paradise Leacock Church are these descendants: David Witmer LeFevre (10-142) and two of his children Daniel K. (11-483) and Emma (11-488); and Henry Witmer LeFevre (10-145). Their sister Anna Marie (Nancy) LeFevre (10-144) married Jonathan Weaver of nearby Gordonviile. Their daughter Mary Ann Weaver married Jacob Binkley Esbenshade, parents of John Weaver Esbenshade, who are the parents of Margaret Esbenshade Tate Lefever, second wife of Paul S. Lefever (13-577). Another daughter, Magdalena married Levi L. Rhoades who operated the Bird-in-Hand Hotel.
Adam LeFevre's son Philip (9-033, 1774-1813) was baptised as an infant at Zion Reformed Church in 1775. At age 38 he died a young man having been a farmer and innkeeper at the Unicorn south of Quarryville. This was thought to be an important road to Maryland, and the Unicorn was one of only four polling places in all of Lancaster County. But he left a family: Daniel (10-116) who became a tanner at Chatham, Hester (10-117), George (10-118) who was a drover at Chatham and who sold a piece of land for a Methodist Church in Chatham, and Samuel (1O-119). After his decease another son named Philip was born. His burial place, what happened to the late born son Philip, or widow Elizabeth Clack LeFevre after she sold the farm and inn, are unknown. Since George sold land for a nearby Methodist Church in Chatham, it may be surmised that is where Tanner Dan of Chatham worshiped. The eldest son of Tanner Daniel and Martha Shenk LeFevre was John Shenk LeFevre (11-391), a Civil War veteran who became an alcoholic. He is buried in the Quarryville Cemetery.
Tanner Dan's son Daniel Frank LeFevre (11-393) as a youngster on a visit with grandmother widow Shenk contracted a childhood disease, and was allowed to stay there the remainder of the winter. He liked it so much, he just stayed on. His grandmother was Catherine Gouchenour Shenk, widow of John Shenk of near Quarryville. It is believed the Shenks were Mennonites, and whether Daniel Frank embraced that faith is not at this time clear. Perhaps he grew up without any church connection. He married Sarah Herr and had several children before she died, after which he married her younger sister, Mary. This branch of the Herrs were thought to have been Mennonites, but as yet there is no proof. Daniel Frank LeFevre (11-393), both wives Sarah and Mary, their son John M. (12-555) and daughter Ida Palma LeFevre (12-559) are buried in the same plot at New Providence Mennonite Cemtery. Another son, Harry A. Lefever (12-558) had been a baker at White Oak Bottom and Buck Roads, Quarryville. Two of his children are buried in Quarryville Cemetery, Martin (13-570) and Earle (13-563).
Daniel Frank's son James Irvin Lefever (12-560) and first wife Emma Book (who with her parents attended the Refton Methodist Church,) and second wife Alice M. Steigerwalt who came from a Lancaster Methodist family, and his first son Ralph (13-571) are buried in New Providence Cemetery. After the second marriage, they maintained membership in the Covenant United Brethren Church, now United Methodist, in Lancaster. Katherine Lingle Lefever, wife of their son Lloyd S. Lefever (13-576) and also the mother of his son Lloyd Irvin Lefever (14-535) and a child are buried in the New Providence Cemetery. They too maintained membership in Covenant United Brethren Church in Lancaster.
Lloyd S. Lefever (13-576) and his wife Katherine Mae Lingle Lefever are buried in the new section of New Providence Mennonite Cemetery. The are the parents of Lloyd Irvin Lefever (14-535) whose second wife was Margaret Seckler and their infant son are also buried in a neighboring plot. They had been members of the Covenant United Brethren Church of Lancaster for many years.
After the death of James Irvin's first wife the children were parceled out to LeFevre grandparents Daniel Frank and Mary who were then living in Lancaster, and to cousins. Agnes (13-572) age 7 and Myrtle (13-573) age 6 went with the grandparents. After James Irvin's second marriage Myrtle came to live with him on a small farm near Neffsville where she met and married Melvin G. Huber of Mennonite background but were members of the local Lutheran Church. Agnes and her Aunt Ida LeFever (12-559) a spinster who also lived with the grandparents attended Church of God in Lancaster until Agnes married Paul Landau, a Lutheran from Lancaster. George Martin LeFever (11-423) son of John Erb Lefever was a fourth cousin to James Irvin Lefever. They were compassionate friends, pictured together in Lefever 1912 reunion.
It was two of George Martin's daughters who took in James Irvin Lefever's children. One of the daughters, Minnie LeFever Rush (12-608) and husband Charles, raised Elwood (13-576) who was only 2 years old when his mother had died. After he married Leona Conrad and moved to Ephrata they became members of the United Brethern Church there. Another daughter Ella LeFever Barnett (12-612) and husband William raised Florence (13-574) near Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church, where she met and married Roy J. Aument, and were Presbyterians. Son Lloyd S. Lefever (13-576) was a farmer, and late in life took the United Brethern Course of study in preparation for the ministry in that denomination. He served several United Brethern churches in Lebanon and York Counties. He and his wife, Katherine Lingle, are buried in New Providence Mennonite Cemetery. Youngest son Paul S. Lefever (13-577) graduated in music from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois and became an assistant pastor and later full time minister of music mostly in larger Presbyterian churches in Detroit, Mich., Kansas City, Mo., and Haddonfield, New Jersey. He had married Geraldine Shaub, also a Lancaster native. She died 11/5/1979, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Lancaster. Later he married Margaret Esbenshade Tate, widow of Presbyterian clergyman, the Reverend Doctor John David Tate, who died in 1969. They had been public school classmates, and they maintain membership in the Presbyterian Church.
Daniel LeFevre (7-003) became a farmer on a tract of land just to the north of Abraham's tract along North Star Road. The only church records found were for a wedding of Daniel's son David,. but sometimes apparently called Daniel (8-O15) and his marriage to Haller, believed to have been Zeller, on 1/2/1775. But THE PENNSYLVANIA LEFEVRES volume records at least three of Samuel's children moved to Maryland, which may explain why we don't find them in our local church records. Not having any proof or knowledge, it might be possible they became Mennonites or merely moved outside of this locality, and are thereby not known here.
Mary LeFevre (7-004) was married to David Deshler born in Heidelberg, Germany by a justice of the peace in a civil ceremony, but moved to Philadelphia after their marriage. 'Ihey became Quakers, accepting the style of life and mode of dress required of them. Please see the separate notation of this family, which came to light just in 1992, in APPENDIX D. Apparently it is the only known account of any of the early LeFevre women; the genealogy book traces only the males who carry the name.
It is known Esther LeFevre (7-005) married Daniel Harmon and died before 1751. He appears on a 1725 tax list for Pequea Township. These could have been witnesses to a cousin Ferree's wedding by a justice of the peace 5/l/1739 before their marriage: Hester LeFevre and Daniel Harmon. There are many later records of Harmon farmers within the several townships near Quarryville, but there is no known record of their families or church preferences.
Samuel LeFevre (7-006) became a farmer and miller north of Leaman Place. Both he and his wife Lydia Ferree (1731-2/8/1778) are buried in the Ferree-Carpenter cemetery on Black Horse Road. Their markers are in the first row of markers just west of the marker for Madam Warembauer Ferree. It may be of interest to note that Samuel is the only child of Isaac and Catherine Ferree LeFevre whose marker is still in existence at this writing.
There are references to several of Samuel's descendants, the Hon. Joseph LeFevre (8-022) having been one of Samuel's sons, who served in Congress 1811-1813, but to this date no reference has been found of his church membership. He wrote a letter attesting to the good character of neighbor Daniel Esbenshade who had applied for citizenship naturalization papers circa 1805. Two of his sons were members of the Leacock Presbyterian Church in Paradise, that church having been built 1840. John Carpenter LeFevre (9-088, 1793-1863) was a trustee of the church. Buried in Paradise Leacock cemetery are his wife Eliza, and son Joseph H. LeFevre, M.D. (10-245). Buried there also are another son, Joseph Smith LeFevre (9-089) and his wife Rachel, and two children Joel Lightner LeFevre (10-251) and Josephine LeFevre (10-257). A grandson of Joseph with descendancy through son John F. LeFevre (10-249) was Nathaniel J. LeFevre (11-711, 1852-1915) who had been an elder for over 20 years of the Paradise Leacock Presbyterian Church. An interesting anecdote tells that when a church pastor, Rev. Workman, was to have been honored for his 25 years in the ministry, but was too unassuming to acknowledge it, at the special service an earlier pastor made some remarks of great appreciation for Dr. Workman's superb ministry. With that Elder Nathaniel LeFevre stood in the rear and asked all who agreed with those remarks to stand to which the congregation responded overwhelmingly. Almost immediately Mr. LeFevre was stricken with a heart attack, and expired a few minutes later after having been carried to a nearby home. This occured 10/8/1915.
Unfortunately, Old Leacock and Lancaster First Presbyterian Church are difficult to trace during the period from 1781 to 1821. It seems the highly esteemed excellent pastor, preacher, educator and seminary director, the Reverend Nathaniel Sample, did not keep any records of church activity for either of his church charges. In 1840 the congregation built a new edifice in Paradise, and those records are good.
Marriage records found are presented at the end of this paper. They seem to be quite self explanatory.
By having been married in a denominational
church in the early American era did not necessarily mean they were members
of that congregation, as much as infant baptisms did infer membership within
that church membership. In those days the civil government did not recognize
marriages by ministers not trained by a seminary, considered to be officers
of the state for performing marriages. This meant anyone from Mennonite,
Amish or related backgrounds had to go to a denominational church for a
legal marriage. The only other alternative was a civil ceremony conducted
by a Justice of the Peace. .Interestingly, there are two records of such
a civil ceremony, both in 1739, one for Mary LeFevre (7-004) to David Deshler
in the Deshler Family History, the other here copied from "History of Lancaster
County" by Rupp, LC09 R946 in Lancaster County Historical Society.
NOTE: Since this was a Carpenter family wedding, remember many of their older family relatives still used the German form of their name as Zimmerman, which explains why there are so many of them present.
The death or cemetery records found are provided here in APPENDIX C. They are meant to be representative, not a complete listing. They require no further explanation.
Likewise, having a minister officiate at the funeral or memorial service, or being buried in a church cemetery, need not indicate church relationship or membership. Many people used Mennonite cemeteries because they are usually less expensive, may have been nearby, and are always very well cared for.
Most of the Lefevers listed on the New Providence Mennonite Cemetery are descendants of PHILIP, chiefly through John Erb Lefever (10-124) son of Adam, son of Adam, and others of Tanner Daniel Lefever of Chatham, Pa. Most of these people lived on farms nearby, and it has not to this date been proved any of them were indeed Mennonites. The Willow Street Brick Mennonite Church (Herr Cemetery) includes only descendants of PHILIP, and they were not known as having been Mennonites. Many other than Mennonites are known to be buried in these cemeteries. The Quarryville Cemetery does not allow for religious preference indications, similar to the two LeFevre cemeteries, on North Star Road and Rt. 222 & Gypsy Hill Road.
Of the LeFevres in Mellinger's Mennonite Cemetery, interestingly, they are almost entirely only descendants of Abraham, known to have been Mennonite in faith and tradition.
Madam Marie Warembauer had married Daniel Fiere, a wealthy silk manufacturer in France. Father Daniel died in Germany after their flight there circa 1708. They were Huguenots, and when oppression became too much in their native France, they fled to nearby Germany where they could live their Protestant faith with much more liberty. Their son Daniel, also born in France, married Anna Maria Leininger while they lived in Germany, and with their two sons came to America arriving in New York January 1, 1709. The eldest Fiere daughter, Catherine, married Isaac LeFevre, the orphan taken in by the family circa 1685. The LeFevres with their son Abraham came to America with the son Daniel Fiere family in 1709. Widow Madam Fiere came to America perhaps a year later with her other children. They all took refuge in New Paltz, New York, on the Hudson River south of Kingston.
In the Fall of 1712 they proceeded to Philadelphia and got their promised grant of land from William Penn's agents for 2000 acres of land. At first it was decided to deed it jointly to Daniel Fiere and Isaac LeFevre, to be divided among the family at a later time. The LeFevre family has a special interest in Catherine Fiere as Isaac LeFevre's wife and co-progenitor of all the Pennsylvania LeFevres. It seems in this modern day most of the Ferrees have moved elsewhere. Aside from historical reference, seldom does the name Ferree come up in a discussion.
Daniel Fiere, the son in America, produced a daughter Elizabeth who married Abraham LeFevre (7-001) eldest son of Isaac LeFevre (6-004). Daniel also had two sons Andrew and John who had been born while they lived in Germany. A son Daniel, Junior, (whose marriage to Mary Carpenter was recorded 1739) was born in Pennsylvania, and Daniel, Jr. later produced a son also named Daniel.
It might be of interest to know there are only two known partial tracings of the Ferree family, one an address by Judge Landis to the Lancaster County Historical Society in 1917, and the other a family tracing by a contemporary Ferree living in California. But neither attempts a genealogical tracing of the family. A Ferree Family Tree record, a fairly well detailed family recording, by Major George Bennett Ferree (1963) may be found in the Philip Schaff Library of the Evangelical and Reformed Church Historical Society at 555 West James Street, Lancaster, Pa.
Young Philip Ferree, brother of Daniel, must have liked what he saw while living in New Paltz, for after the family had moved to Pennsylvania in 1712, he returned to New Paltz where he worked for Abraham DuBois until he had won the hand and heart of their daughter Leah. They were married in Kingston Reformed Church, and then he brought her to Lancaster County for the remainder of their lives. Soon after, in 1717, father Abraham DuBois journeyed to Lancaster County where he purchased 1000 acres of land adjacent to the Ferree-LeFevre tract. After the death of the Dubois parents, the land was divided among their children: Leah, who had married Philip Ferree; Abraham; Joel; Sarah, who married Rolf Elting; Catherine, who married William Donaldson; and Rachel.
Philip Ferree and wife Leah produced the following children: Abraham, who married Elizabeth; Isaac; Jacob; Philip, Jr., wheelwright whose marriage to Mary Carpenter was recorded in 1739; Joel, gunsmith, who helped appraise his uncle Philip LeFevre's gunsmith estate after his death in 1766; Rachel who married James Gardner; Magdalena; and Elizabeth who married a Zurker.
First son of Philip, Abraham and Elizabeth Ferree had the following children: Cornelius, who married Elizabeth; Israel; Rebecca, who married David Schriver; Rachel, who married David Miskimmons; Elizabeth, who married William Miller; and Mary, who married George Graff.
It might be of interest to know Abraham Ferree deeded 99 perches of land (less than an acre) for a school house for 999 years to John Carpenter, Jacob Ferree, Joel Ferree, Philip Ferree, Sam LeFevre and Isaac Ferree.
There were not many church references found in church records to the Ferree family, but those that were found are here recorded. It might be noted that many of the Ferrees moved to York County, Maryland, and to Virginia which probably explains why they are so sparse in these local church records. See APPENDIX E.
One thing is certain. The Old Dutch Church bears silent testimony to the fact that those Huguenot settlers did not forget the faith for which they had fled their homes after they were so persecuted in France. This study seems to indicate that for the most part the later descendants of the Ferrees and the LeFevres have continued an affirmative Christian faith and witness. According to these findings it would also seem most of them have preferred what could generally be called the Reformed Protestant faith, though lately have branched out into related denominations after the Reformed traditions.
Some others have preferred the Mennonite Anabaptist tradition. They are just as blessed as fellow Christians as those who retained the Reformed tradition. One late discovered fact is that Charles J. Lefever (13-747) was elected deacon at New Providence Mennonite Church 1950, and that his line back to Jacob (9-030), son of Adam (8-007) may have all been Mennonites. Interestingly, no record has been found for infant baptism for that Jacob! If indeed Philip's (7-002) wife was Mary Herr, perhaps her Mennonite influence was followed through this family line. It has been a quest for this writer to discover what the faith of our early ancestors was. Now that this study has been ended, it is presented with a great amount of satisfaction and joy to my expanded Lefever family who continue to be, some more than others, Bible believing, hymn and song singing, praying folk who are willing to receive a well constructed sermon based on the Word week after week, all in the old Reformed manner, hopefully giving evidence to their deep inner committed Christian faith.
It always produces a great amazement to me at how the Christian faith has been handed down faithfully and truthfully to us, generation after generation. In our tradition the Bible has always had the first place of authority, the guide to the message of our Lord for a people "of a time such as this." Our Lord has been our Saviour, Leader, Comforter and Constant Companion through many days for many people. We really do need to continually commit our lives to Him. There is a Scandanavian custom of suspending a ship in full sail perhaps eight feet long from the church ceiling, to constantly remind the worshippers of our constant need of His help and direction in our sail through life's fair and foul weather. Sometimes it seems so easy to depend upon ourselves, rather than to entrust our lives into our Lord's hands for His direction and keeping.
Thank you for the privilege of making this
study. May the grace, mercy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ go with
you, now, and forevermore.
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