Section 5: Old First Reformed Church of Philadelphia

Here, we must tell you of a new development. On Sept. 30 2008, I left for Philadelphia, accompanied by the same daughter and son-in-law who suggested our 2005 trip to S-E Pennsylvania, April and Manfred Bruck of Airdrie, Alberta, Canada.

This time, we stayed right in the Old City and visited Nancy Donohue, archivist of Old First Reformed Church of Philadelphia. Nancy took us on an extensive tour of the church and explained its fascinating history from the time of the church’s 1727 founding by Rev. George Michael Weiss, who brought “400 members of the German Reformed Church” to Philadelphia from “the Palatinate region of western Germany”. [Excerpt from the website of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: “Old First Reformed Church Records, 1741-1976”:]

Christian's signature on the 1763 Old First Reformed Church of Philadelphia burial ground deed. Provided by the archivist at the church. Source: Old First Reformed Church of Philadelphia, 1763.Nancy showed us an original Deed in Trust regarding the church burial ground in Franklin Square, signed in 1763 by two church elders. One elder was named Leonard Melchor/Melchior, a business associate of Christian Schneÿder. And one of the witnesses was Christian Schneÿder of Philadelphia, indicating he was an elder of Old First Reformed Church of Philadelphia as early as 1763. [Image Source: Archives of Old First Reformed Church of Philadelphia.]

This was an important revelation in the research of our ancestor, and this signature joins other copies of his distinctive handwriting as a significant element of Christian Schneÿder's story.

This historic document provided one more authentic signature of Christian Schneÿder of Upper Hanover/Old Goshenhoppen and Philadelphia. As we studied various examples of his signature inscribed over the years, comparing them with Old German [Kurrent] and Dutch handwriting found on an LDS website, we were convinced that our Christian Schneider/Snyder arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Allen in 1729. There is no doubt he had a very distinctive handwriting, even as early as 1729. Yes, Christian modified some of the characters throughout his lifetime, and the frail signature on the will he wrote in 1783 reflects his advanced age of 87 years, but for over 50 years, he signed his name very clearly.

We now have a marriage record dated Nov. 12, 1725, and the name of his first wife: Susanna Margretha Mack, daughter of George Conrad Mack and Anna Margaret Schwartz. This would account for the names of two of Christian and Susanna's daughters mentioned in Christian's will: Susanna and Margaret.