My historical research jaunts have taken me to Illinois, Georgia, and several other states. But I never went to the archives in Chester County which is only a hop and skip from Berks County. All of my ancestors settled in Lancaster County when they arrived in the 1700s and stayed there generation after generation until the 1960s when my parents made the big move to the next county. So, naturally, the majority of my family research has been done in Lancaster County and I just don't have much reason to go to Chester County.
Lancaster County was part of Chester County until 1729. I have to go back pretty far to find any of my ancestors in Chester County records. In 1728 more than 200 Germans met at Martin Mylin's house in the part of Chester County known as Conestoga. They signed a petition requesting permission to become naturalized citizens of Pennsylvania with full rights and privileges other citizens enjoyed. Although the rights they were after are not stated, their land was their life and wealth. They wanted to be able to sell the land they purchased and pass it on to their children.
The petition was notarized in (now) Lancaster County and sent to Chester County where the original document is retained. I have a copy of an article that was published in The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine in 1992 which lists the names of all the signers of this rare document. The original spelling and capitalization of the names has been preserved in the article.
Even if they are hard to read, I wanted to see the actual signatures on the petition. So today I made the trip across county lines to Chester County and got a copy of the petition. I have seen some of the signatures often enough on other documents that I recognized a few of them instantly. Others take a good bit of imagination to read. But by comparing the signatures with the list in the magazine article, I can decipher them.
I have not counted how many signatures of my ancestors are on it, but there are quite a few. Wendel Bauman, Hans Good, Hans Groff, George & Henry Weber, and others. I am delighted to have this many signatures on one document for cross reference. Here is a sample.
If you need an interpretation, the names are (from top down)
Hans Good [his mark: HG]
Mathias Shyarmister [his mark: ma?]
Conrade Strickland [his mark: K]
Bendicte Knoll [his mark: B]
Oh yes! The petition was granted on February 14, 1729/30 and their lands were passed on to their posterity. They had no idea their signatures would be as valuable to some of their descendants 300 years later as their land was to the generation who inherited it from them.