A Weiser Land Patent-1722
Author Not Listed
One might have assumed that after all of the scholarly research in the fields of Weiser studies that there are “no new worlds to conquer.” This issue of our magazine contains two brand new revelations which, thus far, appear to have escaped biographers and historians. Our readers have, presumably, already met our editing of the Peters to Weiser letter of 1752 in this same issue of the Review. Now our attention is drawn to a matter thirty years earlier, when Conrad Weiser (as we know his name in Berks) was a young man aged 26, still living in New York Province.
There is room for some of the romance of historical search in a presentation such as this. The editor desires to share some of the thrill of historical sleuthing with his readers.
On October 14, 1968 we responded to an invitation to visit Mrs. Cora (nee Doratt) Morette in the city of Lebanon. She had some “papers” in her possession and would like to have us examine them. The “papers” are ancient and fragile, too fragile to submit them to the processes of photography. Among others, relating to the origins of the Morette family we found an official copy of a warrant to John Conrad Weiser, Jr., and several associates granting permission to purchase 1,637 acres of land “in the Mohawk country.” The full text of this warrant is published here, with careful accounting of punctuation, capitalization of some nouns and archaic expressions.
The date of the patent may be significant. It was signed by Governor William Burnet, of New York, on March 9, 1722. In September of that year Weiser’s first child, Philip, was born. Conrad was about to become a family man. One of the grantees mentioned in the patent is Peter Peck (Feeg, as we know the name in Berks) Weiser’s father-in-law.
It is noteworthy, too, that in the year 1722 the Palatines of the villages along the Hudson and Mohawk rivers sent two emissaries, Godfrey Fidler and a companion, to “inspect” the Tulpehocken lands in Pennsylvania with a view to accepting the invitation of Sir William Kieth, deputy governor of the Penns, to all Palatines to come to Pennsylvania and escape the harassments which then beset them in New York. The trek from the Schoharie region in New York, to Berks-Lebanon, Pennsylvania, began in 1723. However, Conrad Weiser and his family lingered in New York until 1729.
Win. Burnet Esqr., Capt’n Gen’l & Governor in Chief of the Provinces of New York, New Jersey and Territories thereon depending in America, and vice Admiral of the Same To all whom these Presents shall come, or may concern, Greeting. Whereas Jn. Conrad Weiser Jr., Peter Wagoner, Peter Peck in behalf of themselves and others, by their humble Petition presented to me and read in Council prayed my Licence [sic] to purchase in his Name a Tract of Land in the Mohawk Country, three miles distant from any part of the Mohawk River, within this Province, of the native Indian Proprietors’ not already purchased or patented that they may thereby be enabled to show for his Majesty’s Letters Patent, under the broad Seal of this Province to them for the Same.
Therefore with the advice and Consent of his Majesty’s Council have given and granted and have given by these presents do give and grant full Power, free Liberty and Licence [sic] to the said John Conrad Weiser Jr. Peter Wagoner and Peter Feck and other Palatines to purchase the aforesaid Tract of Land, three miles distant from any part of the Mohawk River, near the Creek called by the Indians Osquage, of the Native Indian Proprietors thereof, Provided the purchase be made in one year after the date of these presents and this shall be to you a sufficient Warrant.
Given under my hand and seal at fort George, in New York, the 9th of March in the ninth year of his Majesty’s Reign Anno Domino 1722.
(On reverse side)
By Order of his Excellency
J. Bober D. Clerk, Coun.
NOTES 1. Conrad Weiser’s father was still living in 1722. His name was John Conrad and this double Christian name was the one by which “our Conrad” was known in New York. Therefore the “Jr.” was used in the patent as well as the “John.” In Pennsylvania the pioneer settler was simply “Conrad Weiser.”
2. Weiser’s wife, referred to by him as “my Anna Eve” was the daughter of Peter Feck (Feeg, as we know the name in Pennsylvania today.) The assertion, frequently heard, that Conrad’s wife was an Indian is utterly false. This romantic tradition may have stemmed from the fact that Sir William Johnson, Weiser’s counter-part and contemporary in dealing with the Six Nations, was married, for a time, to an Indian woman.
3. The reference to “native Indian Proprietors” suggests many things but to this observer, it appears that Governor Burnet and/or his advisers wanted to fix responsibility for satisfying the Iroquois claims upon the Palatines after selling lands not yet acquired by treaty. The insertion of the clause “not already purchased or patented” suggests that other Mohawk property had been disposed of prior to 1722.
4. I call attention to the phrase “advice and Consent.” This term found its way into the Constitution of the United States, Article II Section 2, paragraph 2, giving the President powers “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” – –
5. The name “Osquage” seems to have disappeared. However, a map showing the purchase is recorded in the files of the University of the State of New York, Albany. In “Maps and Surveys,” Albany 1859, p. 149 is the entry:
“Map of 1,637 acres of land on the north side of Otsquage [sic] Creek and south of Maques River. Surveyed for John Conrad Weiser and others. Phil. Verplauck, Deputy Surveyor. April 25, 1725. [Mmden, Montgomery County.]”
The information contained in this note was supplied by Eugene F. Kramer, successor to Dr. Milton Hamilton as Senior Historian of the New York State Educational Department. Dr. Hamilton was formerly the editor of this Review while he was teaching at Albright College, in Reading.
Mr. Kramer writes “Minden is a town in Montgomery County (N.Y.) but here is also a village of Minden and a village of Mindenville, the latter near the Mohawk. I find no names of the creeks that you mention (Osquage) but the names might have changed.”
6. The provision must have been met to the satisfaction of the authorities even though the date of granting the Warrant is more than three years later, July 8th 1725.
7. Governor William Burnet carried the title “Captain General” because this term indicated his military responsibilities. It is possible that he was at Fort George (now in ruins), at the head of Lake Champlain, in 1722 when he executed the patent to Weiser et al.
8. A copy of the warrant of 1725, to John Conrad Weiser Jr., Johannes Lawyer and Peter Wagoner is to be found in Patent Book No. 9 page 211. This was attested to by Robert Harperers, Deputy of the State of New York (no-date). This statement was addressed to the heirs of Conrad Weiser, deceased. Obviously this must have been copied after 1776 when the province of New York became a state.
It will be noticed that the patent (1722) included the name of Peter Feck (Feeg) but that name is missing in the warrant (1725). The name of Johannes Lawyer replaces it. It would be interesting to find the original survey noted by Mr. Kramer, but he begs: “Please do not ask me where the map is now.”
One unanswered question is what was the final disposition of the lands warranted to Weiser and his Palatines? Evidently the heirs were still making claims, long after the interpreter’s death.
In colonial times the English verb “to tease” meant to prod. For the student of local history the discovery of new data “teases” one to pursue many facets not yet revealed.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 1968-69 issue of the Historical Review of Berks County.