Conrad Backer / Rutters of Germantown

This section provides additional information on Conrad Backer / Rutters who resided in Germantown, Pennsylvania, from 1683 through the early 1730’s.

It is well documented that a Conrad Backer / Rutters accompanied Francis Daniel Pastorius on the ship America, which departed from England June 10, 1683 and arrived at Philadelphia on Aug. 18th. [i]  Daniel Pastorius was the scion of a distinguished German family, a scholar and practicing attorney in his early 30’s at the time he decided to emigrate to America.  While living in Frankfort, Pastorius became involved with a group of Pietists who followed the teachings of Phillip Jacob Spener.  Dismayed by the worldliness and lack of godliness that they saw all around them, several of this group made plans to emigrate to Pennsylvania, with the intention of establishing a more godly community under the freedom of religion promised by the Quaker provincial proprietor, William Penn.  Accordingly they purchased land in Pennsylvania from Penn under the name of The Frankfort Company  [aka The German Company or Society].  Pastorius was attracted to the plan and agreed to serve as their agent, preceding the rest in order to make preparations for the larger group to follow.

In April of 1683, Pastorius traveled up the Rhine to Rotterdam, then sailed by ship to London, accompanied by a servant, Jacob Shoemaker, who joined him in Frankfurt.  In London he added to his party, as described in the following excerpt from The Beehive, a biography and compendium of general knowledge that Pastorius began writing for his sons after coming to America. [ii]

“The 4th of May I sailed from Rotterdam accompanied by Tob. Lud. Kohlhans, and the servant, then with me, and came the 8th of ditto to London, taking our Lodging at John Hodgkinds in Lombard street.  After I had done my business with Hellmont and those I had letters for, I with Jacob Shoemaker (who came with me from Mentz), George Wertmuller, Issac Dilbeek, his wife Marieke and his two boys Abraham and Jacob, Thomas Gasper, Cunrad Backer, (alias Rutter,) and an English Maid, called Frances Simson, went a board of a ship, which had the name of America.”

From the passage above, it is apparent that the servants other than Shoemaker did not join Pastorius until he arrived in London.  No mention is made of where they came from or how Pastorius came to hire them.  That they were hired in the capacity of servants is made clear from a letter that Pastorius sent, dated March 7, 1684. [iii]

“Concerning my journey hither, on the tenth of June, I saild from Deal, with four men servants, two maids, two children and one young lad.”

Some background information is available on the group of servants that Pastorious hired in London to assist him in the new world.  Jacob Shoemaker was a tanner from Mainz.  The Shoemakers were reportedly Mennonites who converted to Quakerism.   Isaac Dilbeck was a Dutch weaver and Calvinist.  George (Joris) Wertmuller came from Berne, Switzerland. [iv]  No information is available on the origins of Thomas Gasper.

It seems likely that all but Shoemaker and Wertmuller were Dutch. [v]

“In regard to my household, I should like to arrange it in good German style in which Jacob Schumacher and the old Swiss are very serviceable, but the Hollanders, who are with me, are not of much use in it.  Now if you wish that our hope should not be disappointed, send only Germans, for the Hollanders (as sad experience has taught me) are not so easily satisfied, which in this new land is a very necessary quality, etc.”

Thus it is apparent that Conrad Backer / Rutters was Dutch, not German.  Some Dutch did live in Cleves, Germany, since it was near the Dutch border.  But as we have seen, Conrad was employed in London and there is no evidence that he was born or grew up in Cleves.  This mistake likely arose from the fact that many of the original group of thirteen families that Pastorius joined up with on the ship did come from Cleves, but we know that Conrad was not part of this group.  Rather he was one of group of servants whom Pastorius hired in London.

The author of “The History of Old Germantown” makes the supposition that “the young lad” mentioned by Pastorius was probably Conrad Bacher (alias Rutter). [vi]  This appears logical in light of the fact that no further references to Conrad are found for a period of 8 years from their landing in Philadelphia. 

Furthermore, the author of “William Penn and the Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania” states that Conrad may have acquired the Rutter name from Thomas Rutter, to whom he was apprenticed. [vii]  No evidence has been found to verify that Conrad served as an apprentice to Thomas Rutter, but it is plausible.  Pastorius did not begin writing the Beehive until 1696, thus Conrad could already have been apprenticed and associated with Thomas Rutter at the time Pastorious wrote Conrad’s name appended with the alias.  However, if true, it would be strange that Conrad was always referred to as Rutters (with an “s”), rather than as Rutter.  Therefore, there may have been another reason for the name change.

Indeed, it was not uncommon for the Dutch to change their name or append aliases, and this was done for a variety of reasons.  Occasionally, the Dutch used their mother’s maiden name as an alias.  In Westphalan and bordering areas, a family's surname was called a Hofname (farm-name).  Each farm had a surname associated with it and the family living on the farm took this surname.  For example, if a daughter inherited a farm, when she got married, her husband would change his name to the name associated with the farm. During this transition period they would often list his old name and his new surname with a phrase such as genannt, vulgo, modo, sive, or alias shown between them, meaning he had one surname but was called by another.

The next time Conrad appeared in the records was 1691, when his name was shown amongst a list of Germantown residents who were naturalized as freeman of the province and recognized as subjects of England  by William Penn.  In this document, Conrad is named as Koendradt Backer (no alias). [viii] 

Because he apparently still lived in Germantown in 1691, it appears unlikely that Conrad moved to Montgomery in 1689, as indicated in the conventional history.  However there is evidence that a Konradt or Conradus Rutters lived in Burlington, NJ, for several years at the turn of the 18th century.  On Nov. 7th, 1698, Thomas Garwood sold 100 acres to Konradt Rutters for the price of 10 pounds. [ix]  The land was located in the township of Northhampton, Burlington Co., in the Province of New Jersey.  In the document, Konradt Rutters is referred to as a husbandman residing in Burlington.

A few years later, on Mar 4, 1703/4, John Blake, yeoman, sold 150 acres of land to Koonradt Rutters and his wife Anne for fifteen pounds. [x]  This land was also situated in Burlington County, and Conrad is referred to as a resident of the Township of Chesterfield in the same county (no profession noted).

On Feb. 6th, 1704/5, Conradus Rutter and his wife Anne sold 150 acres of land to John Milns and Mary his wife for 51 pounds. [xi]  In this document, Conradus is described as a planter in Burlington.

New Jersey records also show that Koenradt Rutters registered his cattle and hog ear marks as a crop and a hole on the right ear and two slits in the left ear. [xii]

In 1706, Conrad resurfaces in Germantown when his name appears on a deed of indenture for land purchased from William DeWees. [xiii]  In the document, dated the Jan. 22, 1705/6, William DeWees, husbandman, residing in Germantown, sold 25 acres of land to Conrad Rutters, husbandman, also of Germantown, for 20 pounds silver money of PA.  The land was classified as Lot 20 on the Bristol side of Germantown, containing one town lot of 19 acres and a side lot of 6 acres.

Conrad Rutters  is listed as a patron of the Germantown school during the period 1706 – 1708. [xiv]  The Germantown school was founded by Pastorius in 1701.  Patrons were typically parents who sent children to the school.  Interestingly, the list of patrons shown in “The Founder of Germantown” appears to show two entries, one “Conrad Rutter” and another "Cunrad Rütters."  No other name appears twice in the list.  Is there a chance that both Conrad Rutters (of Germantown) and Conrad Rutter (then of Bohemia Manor, MD), both sent their children to Pastorius’ German school?  Research of the original document is needed to determine if the list does indeed include  both, or whether this was just a mistake introduced in the book.

On Dec 13, 1709, Conrad Rutters sold the 25 acres of Lot 20 to Paul and Catherine Engel for 25 pounds silver PA money. [xv]  On the same day, Conrad purchased from Jonas Potts 29-2/3 acres of land for the price of 37 pounds silver money of PA.  This was classified as Lot 6 on the Bristol side of Germantown.[xvi] 

On March 14, 1711/12, Conrad Rutters purchased 18-3/4 acres of land in Germantown from Isaac Van Sintern and Reinier Tisen for the price of 15 pounds silver money of PA. [xvii]  This land was a side lot (towards Philadelphia) of Lot 5, next to land that Conrad had previously purchased from Jonas Potts.  In the deed, Conrad Rutters is described as being a yeoman in the town of Germantown.

On March 15, 1711/12, Conrad Rutters & Ann his wife mortgaged two pieces of land in Germantown to Reinier Tisen for 15 pounds lawful silver money of America. [xviii]  The two parcels were the portions of Lots 5 and 6 purchased from Isaac Van Sintern and Jonas Potts, respectively.  Repayment of the 15 pounds, plus 4 pounds 16 shillings in interest, was to be made in accordance with the following schedule: 1 pound 4 shillings paid on Mar. 15, 1712/13 and 1713/14, then the remainder to be paid on Mar. 15, 1714/15.  Reinier Tissen appeared before the Deputy Recorder of deeds  on Mar. 14, 1714/15, and acknowledged that Conrad Rutters had repaid the full sum and that Rutters was released from the mortgage.

On March 16, 1714/15, Cunradt Rutters, yeoman, and Ann his wife mortgaged the same two parcels of land to Jacob Shoemaker for 20 pounds silver money. [xix]  Repayment of the 20 pounds, plus 6 pounds and 8 shillings in interest, was to be made in accordance with the following schedule: 1 pound and 12 shillings to be paid on Mar 15, 1716/17, and the same again on Mar. 20, 1717/18, and again on Mar. 25, 1718/19, with the remainder paid on Mar. 20, 1719/20.  On Sept. 22, 1731, the executrix of Jacob Shoemaker acknowledged that Cunrad Rutters had fulfilled the terms of the mortgage and released all rights to the mortgaged property.

That fact that Conrad Rutters was forced to repeatedly mortgage his property indicates that he was not a wealthy individual.  This is further substantiated by notes from the Quaker monthly meeting held at Abbington, PA, where friends of Conrad from Germantown petitioned on his behalf for financial assistance several times. [xx]

At monthly meeting ye 26th day of the 2nd month, 1708: “Friends of Germantown acquainted this meeting that Cunnard Rutter, a poor friend, would borrow four pounds to buy a cow, this meeting have concluded to lend him ye money, giving his bond for ye same.”

At meeting ye 28th day of the 10th month, 1713: “Friends of Germantown acquainted this meeting that Cunnard Rutter, a poor friend, wants some assistance which being considered Friends so order, that 2 pounds 10 shillings be let him out of ye Germantown subscription & to take his note for ye same.”

At meeting ye 27th day of the 4th month, 1714: “David Potts & Peter Cleaver who were intrusted by this meeting to take a bond of Cunnard Rutter for money lent him by this meeting at sundry times to ye time of 8 pounds, 10 shillings, which said bond they ye said persons are appointed to keep until such time as this meeting calls for it.”

Conrad Rutters financial difficulties appear to have continued for many years. On Aug 25, 1731, Cunradt Rutters and Ann his wife mortgaged two parcels of land to Isaac Leech of Chiltonham, tanner, for 40 pounds silver money. [xxi]  Conrad is described as being a yeoman in Germantown.  The property mortgaged includes a dwelling and two tracts of land.  Repayment of 40 pounds to be made according to the following schedule: interest of 2 pounds and 8 shillings to be paid on Aug 25, 1732 and again on Aug 25, 1733, and again on Aug. 25, 1734, with the remainder paid on Aug 25, 1735.

No will or probate records exist for either Conrad Rutters or his wife Ann.  Nor do we have any records pertaining to his children.


[i] Dr. Naaman H. Keyser, C. Henry Kain, John Palmer Garber and Horace F. McCann, History of Old Germantown (Germantown, PA: Horace F. McCann, 1907), pg. 30

[ii] Michael Dexter Learned, The Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius: The Founder of Germantown (Philadelphia: William J. Campbell, 1908), pg 111

[iii] Samuel Whitacker Pennypacker, The Settlement of Germantown, Pennsylvania (William J. Campbell, Philadelphia, 1899), pg. 82

[iv] Walter Lee Shepard, Jr., Passengers & Ships Prior to 1684 (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970), pg. 84

[v] Pennypacker, pg. 96

[vi] Keyser, Kain and Garber, pg. 30

[vii] William Isaac Hull, William Penn & The Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1970), pg. 182

[viii] Hull, pg. 421

[ix] William Nelson, Archives of the State of New Jersey Archives, 1st Series, XXI (Calendar of Records in the Office of the Secretary of State 1664-1703, 1899), pg 489, 294

[x] West Jersey Records, AAA-379-3-4

[xi] West Jersey Records, AAA-378-2-26

[xii] John E. Stillwell, Historical and Genealogical Miscellany, Vol. 2 (New York, 1903), pg. 30

[xiii] Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Exemplification Record No. 8, pg. 323 (also Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau of Archives & History, Records of the Land Office, Leases & Releases, Book B, No. 3, pg. 323)

[xiv] Michael Dexter Learned, pg. 182

[xv] Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Deed Book I, No. 8, pg. 283-285

[xvi] Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Deed Book I, Vol. 11, pg. 315-316

[xvii] Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Deed Book E, No. 6, Vol. 7, pg. 245-248

[xviii] Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Deed Book E, No. 6, Vol. 7, pg. 248-250

[xix] Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Deed Book E, Vol. 7, pg. 262-264

[xx] Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA; Abbington monthly meeting records for meeting dates 2/26/1708, 10/28/1713 and 4/27/1714 (microfilm)

[xxi] Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, Deed Book F, Vol. 5, pg. 323-325