Last evening we went to a meeting hosted by the Swiss Pioneers Association at Martindale. Lloyd Weiler gave a presentation on The Martins at Weaverland, exploring the 370-acre property David Martin patented from the Penns. We followed the subdivisions in later generations, acquisitions of additional lands to accommodate their children, and a series of other family and land documents which had been handed down through seven generations of David's descendants.
David Martin arrived in Philadelphia on the Molly in 1727. Oral tradition says he was married to a sister of the three Weaver brothers who settled in Weaverland and they saved a portion of land for him in the middle of their acres. This is probably a legend as there is no evidence to support the story. By 1730 David was married to Barbara Herr Miller, widow of Henry Miller. Henry and Barbara lived on part of the property David patented in 1738. This is supported by a survey of 200 acres for Henry Miller on "a branch of the Constago" dated October 24, 1726, and one of the Weaver deeds which mentions the adjoining "Miller land." Henry did not live long enough to get a deed to the land. David acquired the property by default through marrying Henry's widow. The Weavers probably had nothing to do with it.
David acquired more acres which he later divided among three of his sons, David, George, and Henry. Henry got the portion known as the Martin Homestead. He became the second bishop of the Weaverland district after the death of Bishop Christian Burkholder in 1809. His son Samuel was the third owner and it continued to be passed through subsequent generations of David's descendants. The surnames of the owners changed several times when it was purchased by daughters rather than sons but all of the owners were direct descendants of David Martin.
There was a two-story log house on the farm which burned down. I don't remember what year Lloyd said the fire was but it was several generations from David. The family smelled smoke for several days. They organized a bucket brigade from the creek to the house in hopes of dousing the fire when they opened the wall. But when the fire got air it took off and the house was soon engulfed in flames. Someone quickly dashed into the house and snatched "a box of papers."
That wooden box of papers contained the original sheepskin patent David got from the Penns and other documents. Each generation added to the documents and passed it on to the next owner of the property. Abraham Zeiset (a direct descendant) lived on the homestead until 1968 when he moved to Maryland to get more land. He took with him the wooden box of papers which had been handed down through the generations with the farm.
In 2010 Abraham and his wife decided to bring the box of papers back "home" to Lancaster County and donated them to Muddy Creek Library where they will be secure. This veritable treasure box contained over 100 documents beginning with the original 1738 sheepskin deed David got from the Penns. There were deeds to subsequent owners, drafts, wills, agreements, etc. which not only verify ownership of the land but provide many other details about their lives. There was even a prenuptial agreement and a deed from David to his son Henry which had been annulled by erasing the signatures. It was replaced with another deed several years later which was identical to the first one except a lengthy paragraph had been added giving explicit instructions on the water rights and maintenance of the irrigation ditches. All three of the sons who received part of David's land owned part of the creek which ran through the property and used its water to irrigate the meadow lands where they raised their hay. Apparently they were not satisfied with the first deed and worked out an agreement on the water rights which was then incorporated into a new deed.
Many pioneer settlers had wooden boxes where they kept their deeds and valuable papers but few of these boxes have survived intact. It only takes one generation that does not recognize the value of the old deeds to destroy them. In some cases, one generation saw dollar signs when they looked at the old deeds and sold them, never to be reunited.
David Martin's descendents are to be commended for recognizing the value of their heritage and history and faithfully keeping it intact. Abraham Zeiset had the foresight to ensure the collection of the generations that preceded him would not be scattered and put it in a secure place where it would stay together and be preserved for all future generations.
About eight of the documents were on display in a glass case. Here is David Martin's original patent from John, Thomas, and Richard Penn, complete with the official clay seal below the ribbon.
This is a draft of the 370 acres in the patent. For some unexplained reason, Jacob Weaver took a notch out of David's land.
This is a draft showing the irrigation ditch from the creek to the meadow land and back to the creek.