The Early Lauffer's in America
Near Strasburg on the Rhine in the state of Baden Baden is a town named Buhl, and near Buhl is a village named Lauffer. We are informed it is a town of 400 inhabitants, whether our common forefather came from this village or not we do not know, but he was certainly a Palatine, who for freedom of conscience and personal safety sought an asylum in Pennsylvania.
As a digression, it may be in order to mention the consternation that the arrival of so many Germans in Philadelphia evoked among the Quakers: for it is a matter of well authenticated History that at the outbreak of the American Revolution, the German population in Pennsylvania outnumbered the English, Scotch, Irish and all others combined.
We copy from p. 47, Rupp's 30,000 names: "At a meeting of the Board of the Provincial Council held in the Court .House in Philadelphia, Sept. 21, 1727, 109 Palatines appeared, who, with their families, numbered about 400 persons. These were imported into the Province in the ship William and Sarah, William Hill, master, from Rotterdam, last from Dover, England, as by clearance from officers of His Majesty's Customs there. The said master being asked if he had any license from the Court of Great Britain for transporting these people, and what their intentions were in coming hither, said that he had no license or allowance for their transportation other than the above clearance, and that he believed they designed to settle in this province.
(Col. Rec. Vol. III., p. 283).
"All male persons above the age of 16 did repeat and subscribe their names or make their mark, to the following Declaration:"
'We, subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatinate upon the Rhine, and places adjacent, having transported ourselves and families into the Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the crown of Great Britain, in hopes and expectations of finding a retreat and peaceable settlement therein.
"DO solemnly promise and engage, that we will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His present: MAJESTY, KING GEORGE THE SECOND, and his successors, Kings of Great Britain, and will be faithful to the proprietor of this Province, and that we will demean ourselves peaceably to all his said Majesty's subjects, and strictly conform to the Laws of England and of this Province .to the utmost of our power, and the best of our understanding."
This oath and the registration is necessitated makes it easier for us German Americans to trace our ancestry.
Among the arrivals of Lauffer we note: (Ruff's 30,000 names p. 260) Sept. 23, 1751. Schiff Neptun, Captain James Wier, von Rotterdam, Uber Cowes,-154 Reisende, Michael Lauffer, and J. Michael Lauffer, p. 341, Vol. XVII. Penn'a Archives, 2nd series. Mathias Lauffer, qualified Sept. 25, 1751. Imported in the Ship Phoenix, Capt. John Spurrier from Rotterdam, last from Portsmouth, p. 343, Christian Laufner, ship Phoenix, John Spurrier, Captain, from Rotterdam, last from Portsmouth, Qualified Sept. 25, 1751. p. 384 Johannes Lauffer, imported in Ship Edinburgh, Capt. James Russell, from Rotterdam, last from Portsmouth, England. Qualified Sept. 14, 1753.
(The spelling of our name has been in a fluid state, liable to great individual and family variation, as succeeding pages will show).
The above Christian Laufner may be of our common ancestor, or the father of our Christian Lauffer may have come to these shores before the registration of 1727 began.
The old records show other Lauffers, P. 232, Vol. I., Penn'a Archives 3rd series, Lawrence Laufer, former husband of Margaret Long, who possessed land on the Conewago (a creek flowing west into the Susquehanna River, near Harrisburg); 1746 he had the land surveyed, 2 acres were cleared, for which he had no deed; "and the governor determines that having regularly applied and obtained a survey, ought to have it confirmed."
We discovered in the office of the Register of Wills, Lancaster County, the original document, being the:
Last Will of Conrad Lawfer
Entered 2 May, 1753.
In the Name of God, Amen.
The twenty-ninth day of April, 1751, Conrad Lawfer, of the Borough of Lancaster, yoeman, being very sick and weak in body, but of Perfect Mind and Memory, Thanks be unto God therefore Calling into Mind the Mortality of my Body, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to dye, do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament and Give, Devise and Dispose of the Same in the following manner and form.
It is my will and I do order. That in the first place all my just Debts and funeral Charges be paid and Satisfied.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my Brother; and Sisters hereafter named John George Elizabeth, Orsula, John Michael, John and Christian Marx Lawfers, unto each and every one of them The Sum of one Shilling Sterling.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my Beloved Wife Catrina Elizabeth the whole remaining of my Worldly Estate and also My House and Lott in which I now Live to her Heirs and assigns. I likewise Mark and Constitute and ordain her for my onely and Sole Executrix of this my Last will and Testament. I do hereby utterly Disavow, revoke and disannul a11 and every other former Testament wills and Executors by me in any waise before this Time Named willed and bequeathed.
Ratefying and Confirming this and no other to be My Last will and Testament, in Witness whereof I have hereunto Set My hand and seal the day and year first above written,
Conrad H Lawfer
Signed, sealed published pronounced and
declared by the Testator as his Last Will
and Testament, in the presence of us
Conrad X Kissey
The 2nd Day of May, 1753 Before me the Subscribed came John Oterman and Abraham Myor two of the witnesses to the execution of the within written Will and said John Otyman on his corporal oath and the said Abraham Moyer on his solemn affirmation did Declare and say that they were present and saw and heard Conrad Lawfer the within Named Testator sign seal and publish and declare the within writing as and for his Last will and Testament and That at the Doing thereof he was of Sound and Disposing Mind, Memory, and Understanding
according to the best of their knowledge and belief. Edw: Shippen
Catharine Elizabeth Eller wife of Leonard Eller is exec.
In the pioneer days of early marriages and large families, it was necessary to do no more than occupy the land you desired, have it surveyed and pay a nominal price for it to the proprietors of the Province. It is conceivable that this Lawrence Laufer left a large family; the Conewago separates Lancaster from the present Dauphin County, and one son (Conrad) moved to Lancaster where he died without heirs; and that another son (Christian) moved to the foot hills of the Blue Ridge, and has become the father of a multitude.
That Christian is the name of our common ancestor we know from the centenarian John Lauffer, who visited all his uncles; and we have his word confirmed from five other independent sources. But which Christian of the two named we leave to your choice, as we can find no records to help us out.