The records of the early American colony reflect my ancestors' disposition to
- marry people they know from their own area
- buy land then remain there working it
- carry on naming patterns of their family traditions
- stick to a geographic area
- stick to the religion they were brought up in. The countries they fled often required them to join the State religion. This was an earned freedom they cherished.
And when I check the records there are a dizzying number of repeated names in the same Meeting, in the same geographic area.
Here is an example:
A quick glance at Abington Friends Meeting Records show 2 events in one year, and 1 event in the subsequent year and the family name “Tyson” is mentioned in all three of the records.
My question is: are these Tysons my direct ancestors, or lateral, or even un-related Tysons?
Abington Meeting records shows
- John Kirk, husband of Sarah Tyson, died in 1759
- 1759 was also the year that a John Tyson was married with Hannah Cleaver.
- Immediately following the above marriage, but in the next year (1760), records show a Priscilla (Naylor) Tyson died.
You're lucky--it took me two days to verify that I’m directly descended from all of them:
another John Tyson,
and Priscilla Naylor.
They were all either a 7th great grandparent and 8th great grandparent.
Yet all this was fairly straightforward for this year (1760) Abington was keeping good records and in English, and many of the families had been settled for decades.
However, once you push back to the late 1600s (1680s) to about 1700, the stories are more murky.
Plan for 2015 - 12 AncestorsIn 2015 I plan to blog one time per month about families within a particular geographical area.
That's a pretty big job. The families I'm descended from of just the larger Philadelphia area included (but are not limited to) these Quaker meetings: Chester, Abington, Germantown, Horsham, Byberry are quite extensive.
I will be spending a lot of time there.
January's Ancestor: Reiner /Reyner Tyson & Family
This first post, January’s post, is about Reiner/Reyner Tyson and his family.
I chose him because he is well-documented.
Note on research on Reiner Tyson:
I am happy that in his case for my aunt Margaret B Walmer’s extensive and well-documented research. Included also is some research conducted by my grandmother's brother Don Tyson. I have gone over Margaret's and Don's research and their sources.
(Margaret Walmer was a genealogist who has published books by Heritage Books.)
In this particular post, I don't need her published books but am using her detailed notes, some typed and some handwritten.
To Mardy, I offer another post-humous “kudos! well done!”
I (again) thank my cousin Sam Walmer for scanning her papers.
First a graphic on how I am descended from Reynear Tyson:
Reynear (Reiner) Tyson was born 1659 in Germany. He arrived on the ship "Concord" with other members
of his family also escaping religious intolerance (it was a mix of Quakers and Mennonites aboard).
There is more on his background at the end of the blog (nationality and religion)
Reynear Tyson was unmarried when he arrived in 1683. From here Margaret B Walmer tells the story:
Reiner Tyson and his descendants
by Margaret B Walmer (Feb 24, 1981)
Reiner Tyson was born in Germany about the year 1659. He was one of the thirteen original settlers of Germantown, Pa. in 1683. He died in 1745 at the age of 86.
The name of his wife is not known. Once source says she was Margaret Streypers, another that she was Margaret Kunders and another says that all we know for certain was that her given name was Mary!
One source says that Reiner was illiterate because he signed his will with an X.
Another states that he was Burgess of Germantown in 1692, 1693, 1694 and 1696 and a member of the Coroner’s Jury in 1701.
He served as Elder, Overseer, and representative to Quarterly Meeting numerous times, was a signer of the first document in America denouncing slavery* and in his will, he left his “Dutch Books” to a daughter.
Unlikely activities for an illiterate man, I would think.
In 1701, he bought from John Colley 250 acres in Abington Township and there raised 9 children: two daughters and seven sons.
His daughters were Elizabeth, who married William Lucken and was an ancestor of Theodore Roosevelt;
and Sarah, who married John Kirk (their granddaughter Mary Kirk, married her second cousin, John Tyson, a descendant of Reiner and our direct ancestor).
His sons were
1) Matthias; 2) Isaac; 3) John; 4) Abraham; 5) Derrick; 6) Peter; 7) Henry.
From these sons came at least 40 grandchildren.
Matthias (1) married Mary Potts and they had 12 children. One of them was Isaac who married Esther Shoemaker, a granddaughter of Bartholomew Penrose, and they had 10 children, one of whom was Elisha of Baltimore.
Isaac (2) married Sarah Jenkins, granddaughter of Phineas Pemberton, an intimate friend of William Penn and a member of the Provincial Council. He lived all his life in Abington Township, probably married twice and had at least four children, Abigail, Lydia, Isaac and Israel.
John (3) married Priscilla Naylor. In 1717 he bought 150 acres from Benjamin Hallowell where he farmed and operated an extensive mill, built in 1746 at Ogontz in partnership with Dorothy Penrose Shoemaker and Richard Mather. This mill continued to exist for at least 165 years.
John was an active member of the Abington Meeting, frequently serving as representative to Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting and on several important committees, etc.
However, he also seemed to get himself involved in controversies and was almost disowned [my the Quaker meeting] in 1756 when the Minute [meeting records] describes him as “being Present and appearing in a Contentious and Letigious [litigious] disposition instead of giving the satisfaction required it is there for the sence [sense] and judgment of this meeting that any further postponing of the affair will be to no good purpose and therefore a Testification is order’d to be prepared to disown him and produc’d to next mo mg.”
However, in October 1756, the Minute reads: “John Tyson produced a written acknowledgement for committing something to writing tending to Extenuate the Character of William Hallowell, which was read and rec’d as Satisfactory.”
John and Priscilla had 8 children, Rynear, Elizabeth, Margaret, Sarah, John, Mary, Susanna, and Joseph.
This is the line of 4 John Tyson’s who are our direct ancestors.
Abraham (4) (4th son of Reiner) married Mary Hallowell and they had 3 children. Although he lived for about 87 years, I don’t have any other information at my fingertips.
Derrick, (5) settled at Hatboro [PA], married Ann (?) and 2) Susanna Thomas, had 7 children, was a member of Horsham Meeting and a manufacturer of whips.
Peter (6) married Mary Roberts, had 5 children (Eleanor, Rynear, Margaret, Thomas and Peter) and was a member of Abington Meeting.
Peter acquired 400 acres of land from Samuel Carpenter in Abington Township where he farmed, operated a grist mill and established an extensive limestone quarry (I believe this is the quarry which provided the stone used to build Independence Hall in Philadephia).
Henry (7) Reiner’s youngest son married Ann Harker and had three children, Elizabeth, James and Margaret, whose descendants became very active in Philadelphia in the areas of Law, Medicine and as merchants.
Although Reiner came here from Germany and we now have some documentation of his possible ancestry there, still it seems that he spoke English, his children seem to have married English, there is an English Tyson Coat-of-Arms, and prior to 1683, many English fled their country, some having had all their possessions confiscated, others being exiled, others choosing to leave seeking religious freedom, I continue to wonder just how German Reiner was???
I recently found the will of John Tyson (great-grandson of Reiner who married Mary Kirk and was the great grandfather of Charles John Tyson).
He wrote his will in April 1793 when he was 33. He left his land to his two sons and money to his daughter.
Then he added a codicil in August leaving to the child with which his wife was then pregnant, land if a son and money if a daughter.
Then he died in 1794 at the age of 34. I wonder what the cause of death was. He apparently knew he was dying to have written a will like this, but he still fathered another child.
(End of Margaret Walmer's story)
From Colonial Families of Philadelphia by John W Jordan,
New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911.
REYNIER TEISEN, as he wrote his own name, or Reynier Tyson, as it became to his English compatriots, was a young man, believed to have been unmarried, when he settled with the others in Germantown.
His family connection with the other colonists was through his sister, the wife of Jan Streypers, one of the six original purchasers above mentioned. William Streypers, one of the thirteen colonists, was brother to Jan, and the wives of Thones Kunders, and Lenert Arets were sisters to Jan and
William Streypers; the three Op den Graeffs were cousins to the Streypers, and Herman op den Graeff's
wife was a daughter of Jacob Isaacs Van Bebber, one of the purchasers. Thus the connection ran through
nearly the whole company of Dutch [German] pioneers.
Reynier Tyson was named in Penn's charter of August 12, 1689, as one of the original incorporators of the
borough of Germantown. He served as a Burgess in 1692-93-94-96.
He was a member of a coroner's jury summoned by
Coroner James de la Plaine, 4mo. 24, 1701. On March 1, 1700-1, then a resident of Germantown, he bought of John Colley, of Philadelphia, two hundred and fifty acres of land in Abington township, Philadelphia (now Montgomery) county, soon after that date went there to live, continuing
there the rest of his life.
Reynier Tyson is said to have been first a Mennonite, but seems to have become a member of the Society of Friends
before leaving Germany, as a memorial of him in The Friend (Philadelphia 1857, vol. xxx, p.229), says,
"Reinier Tyson was born in Germany, in or about the year 1659. He was convinced of the Truth whilst living there,
and for his faithfulness thereto suffered persecution. He removed to Pennsylvania a few years after William Penn
first obtained the Province and he settled himself within the limits of Abington Monthly Meeting, then called Dublin.
He continued faithful to the manifestations of Truth received, and grew in the esteem of his friends to a father
in the church.
In the year 1725, he was appointed an elder, and continued faithful in fulfilling the duties of the station until prevented by age, and indisposition.
His friends say 'He was innocent and inoffensive in life and
conversation, and diligent in attending his religious meetings.' He lived, beloved and honored, to good old age, dying on the 27th of the Seventh month, 1745; aged about 86 Years."
He was one of the signers of the address issued by the Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia to London Yearly Meeting,
which Samuel Jennings bore with him to London in 1693, concerning the Keith controversy.
Germantown, where he first settled, as well as his later residence, Abington township, was within the compass of Abington Monthly Meeting, so that all his efforts in religious affairs were accomplished within the latter body; an account of some of these, extracted from the Monthly Meeting minutes, follows:
At the Monthly Meeting held 2mo. 29, 1695.
"It is agreed upon at this Meeting that four Friends belonging to the Monthly Meeting, be appointed to take Care of ye Youth belonging to Each Meeting, as Concerneing their Orderly walking, as becomes ye Truth they make profession of; according to ye good advice of Friends in an Epistle from ye yearly Meeting at Burlington 1694; whereupon Richard Wall is appointed for Cheltenham, Richard Whitefield for Oxford, John Carver for ye uper township, and Ryner Tyson for German-Town."
12mo. 24, 1695.
"Whereas this Meeting having taken into Consideration ye good advice of ffriends from ye last Yearly Meeting, to put in practice their Counsel to admonish those yt profess Gods Truth, and do not walk answerable thereunto: This Meeting have chosen Richard Whitefield, & Edward Orphood, to inspect into Oxford Meeting, Ryner Tyson and Arnold Clinkin to Inspect into Germantown Meeting: &c."
12mo. 24, 1717:
(he having long before this left Germantown for Abington)
It was reported that Friends of Abington Meeting had chosen Reynier Tyson to visit families. 3mo. 27, 1723, he was appointed to assist Germantown Friends in visiting families; (probably because of his familiar knowledge of them).
5mo. 25, 1725:
"Whereas It hath been Desired & thought Expedient that one more Elder belonging to Each Particular Meeting should Attend those Meetings when Friends of ye Ministry Do Meet: In order thereunto ye Meeting have made Choice of Rynier Tyson for Abington, Tho: Roberts for Germantown,
John Duncan for Byberry."
This is the appointment mentioned in The Friend's account of Reynier Tyson above quoted. 8mo. 30, and subsequent meetings in the year 1732; Mention is made of a difference
between Rynier Tyson and John Streeper, about some land. This John Streeper was a son of William Streypers, and the land was a tract in Bucks county, belonging to the latter's brother Jan Streypers, then deceased.
Reynier Tyson had no personal interest in the quarrel except as a relative of both parties, and represented Jan Streypers' children who lived in Holland, from whom he held a letter of attorney. The whole matter is threshed out at great length in numerous letters from both parties, preserved in a MS.
volume in the Library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, called "Streeper Papers."
It came before the Meeting in later years.
8mo. 27, 1735, Reynier Tyson was again chosen by Germantown Particular Meeting to visit families; (perhaps he had returned to Germantown to live for a while, though he certainly went back to Abington again later).
In Reynier Tyson's day, Abington Monthly Meeting belonged to Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting. He was appointed by the former as a representative to the latter, on 6mo. 26, 1695; 3mo. 25, 1696; 12mo. 26, 1698; 12mo. 27, 1709; 6mo. 29; 8mo. 31, 1715; 11mo. 30, 1720; and 8mo. 28, 1728. He was appointed an overseer of Abington Particular Meeting, 1mo. 25, 1706, for "this next year;" and again 8mo. 30, 1709. On 11mo. 25, 1719, the minutes say, "Abington Friends have chosen Reice Peters Overseer in ye Room of Ryner Tyson." As overseers seem them to have been appointed annually he could hardly have been serving since the last mentioned appointment in 1709, so he was most likely appointed in 1718, though the minutes do not record it. He was again appointed an Overseer 11 mo. 27, 1723-4 for the ensuing year.
By the will of Reynier Tyson, dated December 21, 1741, proved October 26, 1745, registered in Philadelphia county Wills (Will Book H, p. 63), he being then of Abington,
he left to his grandson Matthew Tyson (son of his son Matthias) oe6; this to bar all heirs of Matthias Tyson from further claim; said Matthias having received his full share in his life time;
to his sons, John, Abraham, Derrick, and
Peter, six pounds each;
to son, Henry, eight pounds;
to daughters, Elizabeth Lucken and Sarah Kirk, six pounds each;
to daughter, Elizabeth Lucken, "all my Dutch Books;"
certain goods to be equally divided between sons, John, Abraham, Derrick, Peter and Henry, and daughters, Elizabeth Lucken and Sarah Kirk;
to granddaughter, Abigail Tyson, "My riding horse;"
residue of estate to his executor for his personal use,
said executor to be his son, Isaac Tyson;
in receipt of their respective legacies all the other children to deliver to the executor any writings in their possession belonging to the testator or relating to his affairs. [End]
*The Germantown Protest of 1688
This document denounced slavery. Collaboratively drawn up expressed the overlapping viewpoints of both the Quakers and Mennonites in Germantown, PA. Currently housed at Haverford College Special Collections who along with Swarthmore's Friends Historical Library jointly hold the records of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Ethnicity & Religious affiliations
Nationality: English, Dutch, or German?
It is possible that Reiner Tyson's parents, Theiss Doors and Agnes (or grandparents?) might possibly have been English who fled to first Holland, but found that too morally liberal. Kaldenkirchen (where Theiss lived), was close to Holland but in Germany which was known to be more conservative.
They might have fled there.
There are continual assertions that they were Dutch. However, Reiner was born in a German state (granted, close to Holland). I don't have clarity on this matter, however, as you can see from the map inserted below that they are both right on the Rhine. Likely, it doesn't matter that much as wherever they lived they would be under the law of that particular state.
So, all of the above is pure speculation. I would guess that Reiner Tyson (Theissen) himself was born in Germany (possibly Holland and grew up in Germany).
The "Dutch books" which he owned, as stated in his will, would likely be Deustch-German books).
The question will likely never be settled.
Quaker or Mennonite:
The best sources in Germany believe Reiner and his parents were Mennonites---for a while.
Note: Mennonites were not English, but the earliest form of protestant on the Continent, even preceding Luther. However, many Mennonite values of simplicity and mercy were close to or overlapped with many of the (later) Quaker values. They leaned towards pacifism.
There were some documented Reformed baptisms in their family. I am guessing that as the State saw protestant religious sects increase in number (and not favorable to State-Church rule), then performing a baptism in the State's church may have been necessary for survival.)
Quaker Ministers Visit Germany:
Records do show that prior to the emigration of Reiner & co on the Concord, they were visited by Quaker ministers from England.
From Mennonite to Quaker:
Reiner and several others became Quakers prior to leaving for Pennsylvania while still in Germany. We see this reflected in a Quaker marriage ceremony.
It's been argued that English had to have been spoken by the group on the Concord.
There are a few facts reasons which give me doubt on this.
1) There was a time when German speakers and English speakers in the North part of the colonies vied for first place. German was widely spoken in Pennsylvania and the border areas in NJ and Delaware and Md.
2) Then, as now, migrants lived in ethnic-national communities. Hence, Germantown was settled by Germans.
None of them had to have been fluent in English to live in Germantown, or even Philadelphia, at that time.
3) Though it is not "easy" English is a simpler language for German speakers to master at the most foundational level (for example, in the market). Helpfully, too, the roots of English and German are from a common language family (separate from French, Italian and Spanish).
4) They did not need to know English to understand visiting ministers from England. Most likely visiting ministers to Germany were fluent in German (it was more common for ministers to be speak the foreign language at that time).
|modern-day Abington Meeting|
|Krefeld & Kaldenkirchen towns of the 13 immigrants incl R Tyson. (Penna Geneal. Magazine, 1980)|
|Reiner Doors / Reiner Theissen family (red); PA Geneal. Magazine 1980.|
|Reiner's religious affiliation in Germany. PA Genealogical Magazine 1980.|
the Comlys, Kirks, exciting Gilpins and Griests! (Ok, not all at once)