Records indicate that prior to settling in Lancaster, Conrad Rutter lived in Cecil County, Maryland. He likely lived and worked on an estate called Bohemia Manor. More specifically, we know that he was associated with Dutch plantation owners who owned land on a subdivision of the estate called the Labadie Tract. (Read more on the history of Bohemia Manor and the Labadie Tract.)
The first evidence of Conrad’s presence in America is his signature on the will of Samuel Bayard, executed in Bohemia Manor, which Conrad signed as a witness on January 17, 1716/7. The name written on the will was actually “Conrad Ridder,” although it appears that Conrad did not write his own name, since his mark was included next to the signature as verification. [i]
Likewise, the will of Henry Sluyter, Samuel Bayard’s brother-in-law and business partner, dated Feb. 16, 1716/7, was witnessed by an “Andries Ridder.” [ii] This almost certainly is Conrad’s oldest son, Andrew. Andries is the Dutch form of the name Andrew. Both Bayard and Sluyter were Dutch, thus probably referred to Andrew using the Dutch version of his name. In German his name would have been Andreas. From an early date after their arrival in America, however, Conrad’s eldest son appears to have adopted an Anglicized version of his name, Andrew Rider. Neither Conrad nor his other children adopted Rider as their surname, choosing to stick with Ritter, or in some cases Rutter, another English variant of the Ritter surname.
The signatures on the wills of Samuel Bayard and Henry Sluyter provide strong evidence that the Rutters were living on Bohemia Manor around 1717. In fact, it is quite possible that they were working on the Bayard and Sluyter tobacco plantation. Two factors point to this conclusion. First, the use of Conrad and Andrew as witnesses to the wills indicates a close personal relationship with the Bayards and Sluyters. Only family members, trusted friends or close neighbors were typically asked to serve as witnesses to wills. This was because there had to be a reasonable certainty that the witnesses would still be around and willing to act on behalf of the family when the person named in the will passed away. At the time of death, the witnesses were responsible for traveling to the county probate office in order to certify that the will was the decedent’s last and true testament. Thus the duty of bearing witness to a will would not customarily be awarded to mere acquaintances or to those who were expected to be around only temporarily.
Second, we have no records of the Rutters acquiring land of their own in Maryland until Andrew’s lease of 125 acres on Bohemia Manor in 1722, a few months after the deaths of both Bayard and Sluyter. If Conrad was indeed employed on the Bayard / Sluyter plantation, he may have been under contract as an indentured servant. This was common practice at the time for poor immigrants who could not afford to pay for the cost of their passage to the New World. However, the fact that wills were typically witnessed by those who could be expected to remain in proximity until the time of death presupposes a more long-term employment relationship, perhaps as a hired overseer or professional tradesman. Indentured servants could not be counted on to stay after their term of indenture ended, usually after five years.
Interestingly, the traditional history asserts that Conrad Rutter was a cooper (barrel maker) by trade. This belief probably arose from the fact that Conrad bequeathed his coopers tools to sons Conrad Jr. and Peter in his will, but there may have been other evidence known to our earlier ancestors that we no longer possess. If true, working on a tobacco plantation in Maryland would certainly have provided Conrad with ample opportunity to ply his trade, since tobacco was typically shipped in large barrels known as hog’s heads.
Both Samuel Bayard and Henry Sluyter died in the spring of 1722. A few months later, Andrew leased his own tract of 125 acres on Bohemia Manor. [iii] Called Andrew’s Comeby, the term of the lease was defined as spanning the natural life of Andrew Rider and the natural lives of Peter Rider and Joseph Rider.
At the time, it was not uncommon for a person’s sons to be listed in such a lease, allowing the lease to extend across two generations. But, in this case, the Peter and Joseph mentioned in the lease were not Andrew’s sons; they were his brothers. We know this because Andrew’s son Peter was not born until 1726 and son Joseph was not born until 1727. [iv]
In addition to Andrew, Conrad Rutter had three other sons (Joseph, Peter and Conrad Jr.), who accompanied him when the family resettled in Lancaster.
The relationship between Andrew Rider of Maryland and Conrad Rutter of Lancaster is substantiated by a series of indentures signed in 1763 by Conrad’s descendants. These documents were created to clarify the inheritance and division of the 588-acre Lancaster farm between the siblings. In those documents, the interests of Conrad’s eldest son, Andrew, who had already died, were represented by his children: Peter, Joseph , Andrew, and Rebecca, all of whom still resided in Cecil County, MD. [View the 1763 quit claim deeds for Conrad Jr. and Joseph.]
This information makes it clear that Conrad’s eldest son, Andrew, did not inherit and remain on the family farm in Montgomery Co, PA, as commonly stated in the traditional history. It is true that Andrew did remain behind after Conrad and the rest of his family departed for Lancaster. However, the place where Andrew made his home was Bohemia Manor. Andrew raised his family there (as shown by various church and land records) and died in Cecil County sometime around 1749. [Read more about Andrew.]
Yet another reference to Conrad Rutter in Maryland can be found in the 1723 deposition regarding the death of John Crowman, recorded in the Cecil County Land Records. [v]
Johannes Bubenheim, John Skuyl and Henry Styles, all of Cecil Co., appeared this day at 10 am before Justice of the Peace M. V. Babber and deposed that John Crowman of this county, tailor, died last Saturday about 2 o’clock in the afternoon at the home of the widow Bayard in this county and on the 7th was interred by her and her friends at their plantation. On the 5th the deponents heard the said John Crowman declare he was very weak of body but of good sound mind and memory and that as his last will the few clothes he had should be given to Adam Lytner of this county and that the debt owed him by Arnold Bassett, John Chick, Robat Wilson and some others should be received by Conreat Redder and that he [Redder] gave the same to him. He said his body should be decently buried. Made 8 Jul 1723. Rec: 10 Jul 1723. S. Knight, Clerk.
Note first that John Crowman died in the house of Samuel Bayard’s widow, showing yet another connection with the Bayard family. Conreat Redder is certainly our Conrad Rutter. In addition, John Skuyl and Henry Styles are likely John and Henry Skiles [aka Skyles], two German brothers then living in Bohemia Manor. The Rutters and Skiles become close family friends, and Henry Skiles moved to Lancaster with the Rutters, taking up the land adjacent to the Rutter farm.
Likewise, Adam Lytner is almost certainly the Adam Lightner who eventually settled on land to the west of the Rutter farm in Lancaster. Adam Lightner, his wife and two children were part of a group of about 2,800 Germans who were brought to New York in 1709-10 under a British plan to employ German immigrants in the production of tar and pitch for use on navy ships. [vi] The endeavor failed and many of the Germans dispersed to other parts of the colonies. The Lightners arrived in Bohemia Manor by March 6, 1716, when their daughter “Macklen” (short for Magdalena) was baptized at St. Stephen’s Church, near Bohemia Manor. [vii]
This makes clear that it wasn’t just the Rutters who moved from Cecil Co., MD, to Lancaster Co., PA. There was a whole group of friends and relations who picked up stakes and moved together. Of course, this was common during that age when moving to the frontier was such an arduous undertaking. Traveling through the wilderness, clearing the land, and building a homestead was less risky if you had friends and family nearby who could be relied on to lend a helping hand. After settling in Lancaster, the Rutters, Skiles and Lightners remained close, and there were many marriages between the families in subsequent generations.
Note: Spelling variations such as Redder/Ritter/Rider, Skuyl/Styles/Skiles and Lytner/Leitner/Lightner are common in early colonial records. The parties indicated in the document were often illiterate and could not write or proof the spelling of their own names. Furthermore, the authors were often English, and tended to spell unfamiliar German names just as they heard them. On other occasions, the scribes may have even substituted the English equivalent for a German name (using Rider instead of Ritter, for example). Finally, most of the information we have today was copied into the record books by a clerk or other third party, who may have mistakenly introduced errors when hastily copying the handwritten and often difficult to read originals. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find words, phrases and whole sentences accidentally omitted in the transcriptions found in colonial record books.
There is one other probable mention of Conrad Rutter in Maryland. This is in a list of communicants attending Holy Trinity “Old Swedes” Lutheran Church, located in Christiana (modern day Wilmington) on the Delaware River.
Built in 1698, Old Swedes was one of the most well-established churches in the Delmarva peninsula during the early 1700’s, primarily serving the large community of Dutch and Swedish Lutherans living in the area.
Old Swedes Church records indicate that on April 9th, 1721, “Adam Leichtner, Conrad Treder, Jeremiah Evart and Johan Didrich Elrod” attended communion at the church. [viii] This information came from a printed book, thus I have not had a chance to view the original text. But there is a strong probability, based on associations with the other people named, that Conrad Treder is actually Conradt Redder [Ritter].
Adam Leichtner is almost certainly Adam Lightner, the Palatine German from New York mentioned above in the John Crowman deposition.
Johan Didrick Elrod was another German who sailed on the same ship with Lightner to New York in 1710. The ship records note that he was accompanied by his wife, Maria Magdalena, and father-in-law Johan William Lerchenzeiler. All three turn up in Delaware by 1714, listed as regular communicants at Old Swedes Church in Christiana. After the death of his first wife, around 1721, Elrod moved to Bohemia Manor and married Sarah Wood. [ix]
The origins of Jeremiah Evart [aka Everts, Ebert, and Evers] are unknown, but he appears as a communicant in the record books of Old Swedes Church in 1720, often in the company of Elrod and Lerchenzeiler. [x] Like the Rutters, Lightners and Skiles, both Jeremiah Evarts and Didrick Elrod ended up moving from Bohemia Manor to Lancaster, settling in Leacock Township near the Rutter farm. Indeed, there is strong evidence to suggest that Jeremiah Everts married Conrad Rutter’s daughter, Elizabeth.
On April 14, 1723, the church records for Old Swedes indicate that “three Germans from Bohemia” again attended communion services. [xi] While no names are given, it seems likely that the three were either Rutter, Lightner, Elrod or Everts, indicating that they were still residing in Bohemia at the time.
Many of the Germans in Bohemia Manor attended St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was located just a few miles south of the Bohemia River near the present-day town of Earleville. This is illustrated by the fact that Adam Lightner’s daughter, Magdalena, was baptized at St. Stephen’s in 1717.[xii] The proximity of the Anglican church made it much easier to attend on a regular basis than the nearest Lutheran church, Old Swedes, which was about 30 miles away. The religious beliefs and practices of the German Lutherans were quite similar to those of the English Episcopalians. In fact, pastors from Old Swede’s Lutheran church frequently traveled to Episcopalian communities who did not have their own resident clergy in order to lead Sunday meetings and administer pastoral services. Old Swede’s church records indicate that one of their pastors performed a number of baptisms at Bohemia during 1722. [xiii] The circumstances are unclear, but the English minister at St. Stephen’s, Rev. Richard Sewell, resigned in 1723, perhaps indicating that health or other issues prevented him from fulfilling his duties at St. Stephen’s the previous year.
While there are no direct references to Conrad Rutter in the St. Stephen’s church records, there are several reasons to believe that the Rutters attended the Episcopal church. First, we know that Conrad’s eldest son, Andrew, became a member of St. Stephens and that all Andrew’s children were baptized there. [xiv] Second, Conrad’s two youngest sons, Peter and Conrad Jr., became Episcopalians after coming of age, attending St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lancaster. It makes sense that they were introduced to the Episcopalian faith and became comfortable worshipping within an English congregation at St. Stephen’s.
If true, how did the Rutters, who were almost certainly German, first gain introduction to the English church? As noted above, the fact that pastors from Old Swede’s temporarily oversaw services at St. Stephen’s provides one possible link. Another plausible explanation lies in the Rutter’s close ties with the Skiles family. The Crowman deposition of 1723 shows that the Rutters and Skiles were acquainted with one another at Bohemia Manor. In fact, the Rutters and Skiles formed an extraordinarily close bond that remained in effect even after moving to Lancaster, where they settled on farms next to one another.
John and Henry Skiles were brothers from a German family that immigrated to America in the 1650’s. [xv] The Skiles family had been living among the English for two generations, first in Virginia and then in Maryland, when they befriended the Rutters at Bohemia Manor. John Skiles moved to Bohemia Manor sometime before 1714, when his first child, Anna, was born and baptized at St. Stephens. [xvi]
Henry Skiles appears in the St. Stephen’s church records for the first time in 1720, albeit under rather interesting circumstances. The vestry book for St. Stephen’s includes instructions in the minutes for Sept 7th that Henry Skile’s wife, Alchey [Elke], was to appear before the vestry to answer questions regarding her relationship with another man, John Barron. John Barron was also instructed to appear before the vestry, and when he appeared, was admonished to refrain from Alchey’s company in the future.[xvii] Clearly the implication is that the two were suspected of having some kind of improper relationship. (On a side note, Henry Skiles matrimonial misfortunes appeared to have continued with his second wife, Catherine. In his will, Henry instructs that his wife’s right to remain on the family homestead after his death is contingent on her behaving properly toward his children and refraining from getting drunk!) [xviii]
It is interesting to note that the baptisms of two of Henry Skile’s children, Peter and Catharina, are recorded at Old Swedes, and not at St. Stephens. [xix] However, the Old Swedes records state that the baptisms were performed “at Bohemia” in 1722. This was during the time when pastors from Old Swedes were temporarily overseeing services at St. Stephens. Thus the baptisms were probably performed at St. Stephens, but recorded by the Lutheran pastor who performed the baptisms in the Old Swedes church books.
It is probably not an exaggeration to say that the Skiles, experienced colonial settlers who were accustomed to living among the English, served as trusted friends and mentors to the Rutters, helping them adapt to life in the new world. Moreover, the Skiles probably played a large role in facilitating the rapid “anglicization” of the Rutters that is frequently noted in the genealogical records.
Finally, yet another German family that attended St. Stephens and that joined the move from Bohemia Manor to Lancaster was the Noeckers [aka, Noackers / Noachers/ Kneckern]. John Noeckers and his wife Catherine are said to have come over as part of the German immigration to New York in 1710, but this remains unverified. What we do know is that they found their way to Cecil County some time prior to January 14, 1717/8, when the birth of son Christopher was recorded at St. Stephen’s Church. [xx]
On July 8, 1722, Catherina Noecker served as a sponsor at the baptism of Marten and Elisabeth Scotsman’s child Mary. [xxi] The baptism was recorded at Old Swedes Church, but probably performed at St. Stephens. The other sponsors at the baptism were Adam Leicsher [Lightner] and Catharina Steuls [possibly the second wife of Henry Skiles]. Several months later, on Nov. 10, 1722, John Noecker received a lease for 105 acres in Bohemia Manor.[xxii] His land was situated next to that of Adam Littner [Lightner] and Martin Scotchman.
Not all of the Cecil-to-Lancaster settlers were German. Also making the word were the Douglas [Duglass] and Little [Lytle] families, who were most likely Scotch or Scotch-Irish. The traditional history for the Douglas family, as told in the Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, is that four brothers (Archibald, Andrew, James and Thomas) came to America around 1728, possibly in the company of their father, Lord Archibald.[xxiii] The story is that they were Scotch Anglicans of royal lineage with roots in the Edinburgh area on the border of England and Scotland. [xxiv] The traditional history asserts that the family gathered up all their possessions, chartered their own ship, and traveled in style with a party of close friends and relatives to America. Archibald Little, who settled near Archibald Douglas in Lancaster, may have been a member of that traveling party.
The Annals also state that Douglas party spent some time “at the headwaters of Chesapeake Bay,” before proceeding on to Lancaster. This is interesting because Bohemia Manor is situated in the headwaters of the Chesapeake. It is also intriguing because another Douglas family, possibly related to the Lord Archibald clan, was living near Bohemia Manor at the time. William Douglas was a merchant working in New Castle, Delaware, at the turn of the 17th century. In 1702, he purchased a 522-acre tract of land called Vulcan’s Rest, situated on a branch of the Bohemia River.[xxv] The family moved to Vulcan’s Rest and remained there until the land was sold off around 1750. Some genealogists have even established a link between the families of Lord Archibald and William Douglas in Scotland. [xxvi] Based on this information, it seems quite likely that the sons of Lord Archibald stopped temporarily at Bohemia Manor in order to take advantage of the hospitality and new world experience of their relatives at Vulcan’s Rest.
The records of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church show that the Douglas’s of Vulcan’s Rest attended the church in the 1720’s. [xxvii] Thus it was quite possibly through this connection that the Scottish Douglas’s and Littles became acquainted with the German Rutters, Skiles, Lightners, Noeckers, etc.
Even more intriguing is the possibility that, if Conrad Rutter did indeed marry a Douglas, as indicated by the traditional history, that they met and married at St. Stephen’s Church, not in London, as commonly reported. (Read more about Conrad’s possible second marriage to a Douglas.)
The evidence shows that the Rutters, Skiles, Lightners, Elrods, Everts, Noeckers, Douglas’s and Littles all lived in or around Bohemia Manor, and that they all pulled up stakes and moved to Lancaster County, PA, in the latter half of the 1720’s. The next section of the website explores the Rutter’s life in Lancaster, why they may have chosen to leave Bohemia Manor, and how they ended up settling in Leacock Township.
Go to next section: Life in Lancaster County, PA
[i] Maryland Hall of Records, Annapolis, MD, Prerogative Court (Wills), MSA citation: SM16 (microfilm)
[ii] Maryland Hall of Records, Annapolis, MD, Prerogative Court (Wills), MSA citation: SM16 (microfilm)
[iii] June D. Brown, Abstracts of Cecil County, Maryland, Land Records: 1673-1751 (Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 1999), pg. 157
[iv] Henry C. Peden, Early Anglican Church Records of Cecil County Maryland (Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, 2007), pg. 39
[v] Maryland Hall of Records, Cecil County Land Records, No. 4, 1722-1751; folio 20
[vi] Paul Lightner Whitehouse, “The Lightner Family,” www.home.comcast.net/~whitehouse-family/
[vii] Henry C. Peden, pg. 22
[viii] Courtland B. Springer, Ruth L. Springer, Communicant Records, 1713-1756, of Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church (Wilmington, DE: Historical Society of Delaware, 1953-1956), pg. ?? [located at WI historical society]
[ix] Website: “Elrod Family,” The Jarvis Family and Other Records, http://www.fmoran.com/elrod.html
[x] Springer, pg 64 and ??
[xi] Springer, pg ??
[xii] Peden, pg 22
[xiii] Horace Burr, Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware IX; The Records of Old Swedes (Holy Trinity) Church (Wilmington, DE: Historical Society of Delaware, 1890), pg.270-273
[xiv] Peden, pg 39
[xv] Skiles genealogy website created by Bskinner (no longer online; printed version of webpages in my possession)
[xvi] Peden, pg 23
[xvii] Alkey skiles reference in st stephens vestry meeting notes
[xviii] Lancaster County Will Book J, Vol. 1, pg. 238 (view online at: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=rrrose2&id=I193490)
[xix] Burr, pg. 271
[xx] Peden, pg 22
[xxi] Paul Lightner Whitehouse, “The Lightner Family,” www.home.comcast.net/~whitehouse-family/
[xxii] June D. Brown, Abstracts of Cecil County, Maryland, Land Records 1673-1751 (Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 1999), pg. 162
[xxiii] “The Douglas Family,” Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: John H. Beers & Co., 1903), Vol. 4, pg. 1507-1511
[xxiv] Various online sources, but for one see “The Douglas Family” (pdf), The Saunders Family History website, www.saundersfamilyhistory.com
[xxv] June D. Brown, pg 24
[xxvi] Kathryn Pegelow, “Descendants of William Douglas” online at http://www.thetintypeshop.com/family/Douglas/Surnames/DtoF/Douglas/kathrynpegelowgedcom_2012-03-09_2012-04-04_2012-08-18.pdf
[xxvii] Peden, pg. 33