Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sommer's in PHL Lord's Supper Records

The Lord's Supper records have produced some interesting clues for our research, so I'd like to record some of those findings here.  But first let me give a little background about how we came upon these new records.

I have to give ancestry.com credit for continuing the effort to expand their database collection.  Just when we were feeling pretty satisfied with our findings of both Sommer and Menge families in Philadelphia church records, suddenly there were new hints showing up on ancestry.  They have recently brought a new database online called Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985.  That database contains lists of people attending the Lord's Supper at the St. Michael's Zion and Lutheran Church (among other churches), and it has proven to be rather instrumental in helping us to narrow down the arrival dates and the birth years of our people because these new records show two important things about people who were attending the Lord's Supper:
  • how many years they had been in the country
  • current age
But there was also a last column of information in these records which we haven't been able to fully decipher.  When asked about it, the experts at the FHL thought the last column pertained to Current Place of Residence.  So with that, let's see what we have in a few key examples:

1759 - Johannes and Anna Eva Sommer - can't yet read the whole entry, but ends with mention of Frankfort
1762 - Maria Magdalena Sommer, 21, living with Johannes Sommer of Frankfort
1763 - Maria Magdalena Sommer, serving Mr. Hooks

For Johannes and Anna Eva, let me remind (myself mostly) that we're talking about the brother of our Johann Georg Sommer who also arrived on the ship Brothers in 1752.  Johannes and Anna Eva married in Germany and had at least two children there before coming to America.  The record mentioned above is one of several for the couple as it appears that they attended many Lord's Suppers.  We still haven't deciphered everything pertaining to them in these records, but the word Frankfort can be easily detected.  And then Frankfort appears again in the next record for Maria Magdalena.  What's that about?  Just when we think we have determined that our Sommer family is from Freistett, now they're from Frankfort?  Which is nowhere near where we thought they were from?

Ah, but this reference is not to Frankfort, Germany, it is to the borough of Frankford in northeast Philadelphia County.  The history of Frankford is itself quite interesting.  So now we know where one of the Sommer brothers was living.  (We have seen other reference that our grandpa Georg was living in Smithfield, an early name for Germantown.)

Now for the 1762 record for Maria Magdalena (MM).  We should take note here that if this is our Maria Magdalena, she is apparently living with her uncle.  Why wouldn't she be living with her parents?  There might be all kinds of reasons, but the question remains.  I would also like to make another reminder note that MM's age here is 21, and that age does not coincide with the age of the daughter that Georg and Anna Barbara had in Germany before emigration (see my previous post on this topic, Maria Magdalena and An Emerging Theory).

Finally for the 1763 record for MM.  This record definitely says she was SERVING Mr. Hooks.  The word "dienet" is colloquial for "to serve."  The FHL expert did not think that was necessarily indentured service, and he said it was common for young girls in Germany as well as in America to earn $$$ being a house servant.  As another side note, we don't know who Mr. Hooks was, but the Hooks name does show up in other PHL records.

And just one more thing to add about this topic.  What's with all these lists of people attending the Lord's Supper?  Lots and lots of people going to lots and lots of Suppers!  Well, ancestry has another source, a digitized book called "Persons Naturalized in the Province of Pennsylvania, 1740-1773".  On page 3 of that book it talks about the rules for being naturalized according to King George:  you lived in the colony for 7 years and did not leave the area during that time for longer than 2 months, and you had to produce Court Certificates that you had taken the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in a Protestant or Reformed church within the last 3 months, and all of this is before you could take the oath to become a citizen of Great Britain.  So there you have it.  Everybody who wanted to become a citizen of the New World was going to Supper!

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