Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Indentured Servant and the Farm Upon Which He Lived

Berks County, Pennsylvania was the home of at least six of my ancestral families: Alder/Alter,  Daniel/Daniels, Forster/Foster, Hoffman, Irion/Jerion/Yerion, Lederman/Leatherman, and a possible seventh lineage: Sch√§dler/Schedler.

A total of five days was spent in Berks County earlier this month and on portions of several of those days I roamed around the back roads of Berks and neighboring Montgomery county. The area was MUCH hillier than I had thought it would be with sometimes narrow and usually winding, curvy roads. As a result, it always took me twice as long to get someplace as I thought it would. It was especially pretty with the leaves changing color, in spite of the dreary, wet weather.

One of the "family sites" on my list to visit was the Homestead of David Kaufman in Oley Township (seven miles east of Reading) in Berks County. David Kaufman is not one of my ancestors but he was the "master" of one of them.

My research on the Yarian family began in 1985 when my mother and I went on a trip to Pennsylvania. Considerable information has been gathered over the years which has been enriched by the work of other researchers.

The earliest publication I discovered was a small typewritten manuscript titled "Some Descendants of Mathias Jurian 1702-1763" by Miss Cecil H. Smith. It wasn't documented but it certainly provided lots of clues. The first Yarian researcher that I made contact with was Lowell Yarian who lived nearby in Warsaw, Indiana.  He was retired and he and his wife traveled the United States gathering information on anyone named Yarian. One side of his RV was lined with 3-ring binders full of family group sheets. He passed away in 1998 and I've often wondered what happened to all of his research papers.

James Weaver published "The Yerian-Yaryan Family: Mathias Jurian and his Descendants in America" in 1989 (though I didn't discover it until a few years later). I also made contact with Carl Bennett in 2002 and learned that he was the provider of much of the information in Weaver's book.

The immigrant ancestor is Mathias Jurian who arrived in Philadelphia on October 11, 1732 "Forty two Palatines, who with their families... were Imported in the Ship Pleasant, James Morris Master, from Rotterdam, but last from Deal..."

Matthias Jurian made his mark "M i" as shown on List 27B from Pennsylvania German Pioneers (Strassburger & Hinke, 1934)

 On List 27C his name (2nd name in left column) is written as Mathias Jeryon or Ieryon.

Since the publication of Weaver's book in 1989, church records of Tuttlingen in Talheim were found by other researchers that showed that Matthias Irion was married January 29, 1731 to Maria Magdalena Pfister. It is presumed that Magdalena was one of the 102 women and children on board the Ship Pleasant.

The "Biographical & Historical Cyclopedia of Indiana and Armstrong Counties, Pa." (pages 617-618) includes a biography of William Keppel and mentions his grandfather, it states "Daniel Keppel (grandfather), was born in this State in 1787, and died in 1824. He married Elizabeth Yearyan, a daughter of George Yearyan, of Westmoreland county. [Lists their 12 children.]... George Yearyan (maternal grandfather) was a "redemptioner," and was brought to this country by David Kaufman, a farmer, for whom Yearyan worked for three years to repay the amount of money his passage had cost. At the end of these three years' service he received from Kaufman a horse, a saddle and bridle, and two suits of clothes. His wife was a Miss Williams, of Welsh descent."

It was always suspected that it was actually Mathias Irion, the father of George, who was the redemptioner - baptismal records of Johann Casper Stoever show that John George, son of Mattheis Jergan of Oley was born October 18, 1733 and baptized December 10, 1733.

In October 2001 another Yerian researcher, Margaret Sopp, posted a message on GenForum that she had located the indenture for Mathias Jrion. Of course, at that time I was off researching other family lines and it wasn't until nearly a year later that I learned of this find from Carl Bennett. In the GenForum post, Margaret doesn't tell how she located the indenture but Carl forwarded the letter he received from her regarding that find - it's a really neat story.
It seems that Margaret was an active contributor to one of the surname lists on Rootsweb. One of the other subscribers was Ken McCrea who was going to be leading a research group to Salt Lake City. Margaret signed up for the group and in the process of preparing for the trip mentioned the Yerian surname to Ken who was also a  frequent lecturer giving talks on immigration, among others. As part of his immigration talk he discusses indentures, of which he had only ever seen one, and he uses it as an example in his lectures... and yes, it was the indenture was for Matthias Jurion!
A copy of the indenture can be found on the genealogy site of Carol Diane (Holland) and David Paul Knight. Additional information is also posted there on Matthias Irion.

My transcription, below, differs somewhat from that posted by Margaret Sopp.

This Indenture made the first day of November In the year of our Lord one-thousand
Seven hundred & thirty two. Witnesseth that Matthias Jrion late of Durlach in Germany ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ for & in Consideration of the Sum of Sixteen Pounds & Nineteen Shillings lawfull money of Pensilvania [paid for] his passage from Holland to Philadelphia in the province of Pensilvania of his own free & Voluntary Consent Doth bind himself a Servant unto David Kaufman of Oley in the County of Philada & province aforesaid. To serve him his heirs Execrs Adminrs or assigns from the day of the date hereof the full Term of Three years & Nine Months ~ ~ Thence next Ensuing to be fully Compleat & Ended During all which sd Term the said Servant his sd Master his heirs Execrs adminrs or assigns faithfully and honestly shall serve and the sd Master his heirs Execrs adminrs or assigns During the sd term of three years & nine months ~ ~ shall find & provide for the sd servant sufficient Meat Drink apparel washing & lodging fitting for a servant during the sd term and after the expiration of the sd term give the sd Servant two suits of apparrel one whereof to be new ~ And for the true performance of all & Every the sd Covenants & agreements Either of the sd parties binds himself unto the other firmly by these presents. In witness whereof they have Interchangeably herunto set their hands & seals. Dated the day & year first above written ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ David Kaufman
Sealed & Delivered In the presence us us } John Astancad  [?]Jnr [and] Henry Pastorius

In 1958 the Kaufman farm was included in an "Historic American Buildings Survey" by the National Park Service (HABS No. 1042), which provides a description of the house and also states "The buildings on the Kaufman farm are the finest complete known example of a Pennsylvania-German farm group in the Oley Valley." A second survey report (HABS No. 1059) includes several photos of the barns taken in 1958.

In 1983 the entire township of Oley was included in the "Oley Township National Register Historic District Survey." An article I found in the Reading Eagle dated November 7, 2002 showed that the David Kaufman farm was still owned by a descendant and had been continuously owned by a family member for 275 years - since 1727 when the farm was established.

In 2008, Carl Bennett sent me a more extensive survey done by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. I have not found this document online.  The report was dated March 30, 2007 and stated that the farm had passed out of the hands of descendants. It went on to say that the "Current owners are conducting a comprehensive maintenance, preservation, and documentation project with the objective of preserving the integrity of all historic elements of the property.  Restoration consultants are carefully inspecting and analyzing construction elements and techniques to determine the history of each building and collecting and interpreting archeological findings.  Their goal is to provide for the future establishment of a museum that will depict an historic Oley Valley family farm of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."

The "Manor House" was constructed circa 1763 but "Two of the barns David built still exist; the stone ground floor barn mostly original and the log barn, altered after the wooden members of this building burned and were replaced by a frame barn on the same foundation."

Jacob Hill Kauffman, the 3rd generation to live there, owned the farm from 1804-1843. "He took down the original log house and replaced it with the existing stone cabin at a higher elevation. He designed the new cabin to be nearly identical in dimensions, making it possible to remove structural elements of the cabin and reuse them in the stone house.  He used the summer beam, the fireplace lintels, and the floor joists."

It is possible that Mathias Irion had a hand in the construction of the older barns. Even if he didn't, it was still exciting to visit the area just knowing that he had lived on the farm for a few years. There did not appear to be anyone at home so I stopped the car alongside the road and took the photos below without going onto the property.

The west side of the Manor House.

 The Manor House from the front (south side).

I could be wrong, but I think the larger of these two buildings is the Stone Cabin built in the 1800s that used some of the elements of the original log cabin. The smaller building is the spring house.

Photos of the Kaufman farm were taken on October 4th and October 9th, 2012.

Mathias Irion is my 6th great-grandfather. The surname has been found in records under numerous variations but descendants in my line adopted the spelling of Yerian or Yarian.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "An Indentured Servant and the Farm Upon Which He Lived," Kinexxions, posted October 24, 2012 ( : accessed [access date])

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