The Peter Recher Letters


In 2008, Judy Ott, descendant of Peter Recher, Sr., sent the above photo of Peter's gravestone at the Jerusalem Cemetery. The marker is a field stone, a rock that had to be removed in order to plow or dig into the earth. Unfinished, unpolished granite, rocks like this were used when a finished stone could not be afforded or when no stone mason/worker was available. The chiseling is crude but efficient: Peter's last name is split with RE on the line with PETER and CHER on the line below. The language is German; Mertz means March.

This article includes two letters written by Peter Recher (1724-1791) who emigrated from Ziefen, Canton Basel, Switzerland, to America.

Peter immigrated in 1751 on the ship Queen of Denmark arriving at the port of Philadelphia on October 4, 1751. His first letter sent to Switzerland describes this voyage.

Peter was the son  of Martin Recher-Grimm (1692-1760) who was a "pposamenter" by trade. This means weaver of ribbons, braids, or lace.

Of oarticular interest is that Martin was expelled from Basel-Land between 1722 and 1730 because of his Wiedertäufer beliefs. During these eight years, Martin Recher lived at Oberdiessbach in Canton Bern and in 1730 returned to Ziefen. According to the recorded testimonials, he had "behaved in a more acceptable manner" and was permitted to return.

Peter is thought to have first settled in Adams Country, Pennsylvania, and then later moved to Frederick Country, Maryland.

Two church book entries which are most likely for Peter Recher's children are found in the church book of the Reformed and Lutheran Church, Lower Bermudian, Adams Country. The baptismal records list two daughters of Peter and Anna Recher who were baptized: Susanna, Dec. 26. 1757 and  Elizabeth, Feb. 18, 1759

Peter's other children's names appear in land transactions dated 1795 and 1798 after Peter's death. The siblings were selling their shares in their father's estate to their brother Peter. There names also appear in the Gradeham, Maryland,, Moravian church records:

Elizabeth married Joseph Leatherman; Mary married Godfrey Leatherman; Peter Jr. married ElizabethProtzman, both died in Montgomery Co., Ohio; John married Anna Rosina Protzman

In August 1762, Peter purchased forty-six acres in Frederick Country, Maryland. That same month, he also redeived patents for two trcts of land: "Short Pipe" (30 acres) and "Anna" (20 acres).

Peter was naturalized in Frederick Country, MAryland on April 12, 1771.. He died (intestate) on March 19, 1791, and was buried in the Jerusalem Cemetry near Myersville, Maryland.

This letter is to reach Martin Recher in Ziefen, in the area of Basel-Land in Switzerland

from 'The Peter Recher Letters of 1751 and 1753' published in "Mennonite Family History, " October 1992, compiled and translated by Klaus Hein:
First Letter--
"to Marty Recher in Ziefen, in the area of the Basel-Land in Switzerland; "My friendly greeting and the following report to you--much beloved father, brother, sisters, brother-in-law and his siblings... "Now I will tell you a little of the journey. Down the Rhine everything went fairly well, up to the town of Arnheim in Holland. Here the helmsman drank so much beer and brandy that he could hardly see straight. "He steered the ship straight into the 'schiffsbruck' (landing pier). People standing nearby were sure that the ship would break apart, but through God's guidance nothing happened to our ship... "On the 23rd of June we arrived in Rotterdam, where we stayed for 6 weeks. From Rotterdam, across the "tollen hund" (mad dog meaning English Channel), we went to a town in England called Cowes. We stayed there for 10 days. Then we started our voyage over the big ocean. "For the first 8 days on the ocean we had unfavorable winds, so that we reached an island called Santa Maria. There we waited for 6 days, and once the wind became favorable we continued our voyage and had good winds for the most part. "On the 20th of September we were caught in a storm. The wind broke our middle big mast. Waves battered against our ship so that it sounded like the thundering of several cannons. The ship rolled on to its sides to such a degree that one thought one might drown at any moment. This wind last from 4 o'clock in the afternoon until 4 o'clock in the morning. The waves washed high over the ship. "Several times we had excellent wind, so that we traveled 10 to 12 miles in an hour. Our journey across the ocean, from Cowes to Philadelphia took 9 weeks. The 14th of October we reached land. [Ship list shows Peter Recher on the "Queen of Denmark" on October 4, 1751, arriving in Philadelphia--possibly the original German in Peter Recher's letter was misread, reading a 14 instead of a 4]. 350 passengers were on our ship, of which 29 died; 18 of them were children below the age of 4. "I was well and healthy the whole time. But during the time on the ocean, I must have regretted being there as many times as there are minutes in a year. My dear friends, I advise no one to come, for the journey is dangerous and troublesome. "Beyond the above I do not have much to write you. I have seen enough of the country to know that there is much rough country, with snow and mountains as in Switzerland. "There is also much good land, but it has all already been claimed in Pennsylvania, and it is as expensive as in Switzerland. There is as much wood here as one could wish for. The wood in the forests is so thick as to make them almost impassable. If only you would be able to use some of all this wood, as I have often wished you could! You certainly would not have any lack of wood--regardless of how much you need. " Now I will tell you about cousin [actually his uncle] Hans Recher's son. Hans Hemmig's wife...talked with him in the city of Philadelphia... His name is Johannes... "Cousin Heini Buser also visited me, which made me very happy... The city in which he lives is called Yorktown [York, PA]... "I also heard that Marty Tschopp is in this country... Further I heard that Jogy Rudy arrived in this country... "I am presently living with Hans Hemmig and have taken service with a shoemaker for one month. He promised to pay me 10 pounds... When I finish working for him I plan to work on my own. All the work is done in the customers' homes. "Now I dearly greet you all once more...and I wish all the best for soul and body. written the 4th day of Christ's month (December) 1751 Peter Recher, on the 'Motagrug' (Muddy Creek) at Hans Hemming's"

Second Letter-- 

"to Marty Recher in Ziefen, which lies in the canton Basel-Land in Switzerland; "To you, much loved parents, brother and all three sisters... "From your letter I was able to tell that you all would like to see me. I, too, would like to see you again, and I intend to come to you again once conditions are better, and things cheaper, where you are. I am glad that the lace-making trade is satisfactory again. Otherwise, people in the Canton Basel-Land would be bad off since many depend on lace-making work. "I wish that all 'mouse-poor' people could be in this country and would not have to have any debts. They could earn their daily bread properly if only they had the desire to work. "But I advise all who can 'made it through' over there not to move to this country. Much money is used up in getting here, and once here it is all used up. Then the misery starts and one hardly knows how to help oneself. For all those who have bread, it is as good to eat over there as it is here in the new county. "This country is similar to Switzerland in many respects. It has rough and high mountains as does Switzerland but also good tillable land. There is so much uncultivated good land, but a wild people [Indians} live on it and become very angry. "The wild and uncultivated land is covered by woods. There are as many varieties of trees here as in Switzerland, perhaps even more. Here in Pennsylvania there are mainly oak trees, but also many nut trees some chestnut trees, poplar,..., walnut trees, mulberry trees, and sassafras trees. The map at right shows the village of Jerusalem along US 40, to its north, Pleasant Walk Road reaching Wolfsville at the red star. "You in Switzerland, find sassafras in your pharmacies and it is very expensive. Here it is plentiful and it has a pleasant odor. Farmers make tea from its blossoms. there are many other trees which I cannot name. Blueberry bushes abound. I have not yet seen juniper and fir trees, but in Virginia there are supposed to be many fir trees. There are also pine trees, but of a different kind than hose in Switzerland. Cedar trees grow in two variations, namely white and red. Wild boxwood trees also grow here, but they are not as pretty as the domesticated variety. there are many more sorts of trees, but it is unnecessary to describe them all. "Many varieties of herbs grow here, some of them precious, as well as precious roots. The herbs all are of a different stature from those in Switzerland, on the 'Wulkraut' [probably kidney vetch or mullein] looks the same. "The farmers grow all kinds of grains, but for the most part, wheat and rye. We have buckwheat or heathergrain. 'Weltschkorn' [corn] is not planted. Many potatoes, beets, turnips, beans, and all sorts of garden vegetables are grown, just as in Switzerland. "There are also big rivers and creeks, and many good springs. Fish in the creeks may be caught by anyone. "Vines and grapes grow here, but they are not used to make wine, rather they are eaten only from the stem. Wild vines and grapes are as plentiful as you could wish. The wine which is consumed here all comes from 'Offania' [Spain?] across the ocean. A half measure of wine costs 9 cents at the inn, but it is as strong as brandy. The drinks, which are most common here, are cider, beer, and whiskey, which is distilled from wheat. "They have valuable horses here, which can be ridden 4 to 5 miles in an hour. Cattle is the same in Switzerland, as are the sheep and pigs, But there are no goats. "Many wild animals can be found: deer, bear, wolf, fox, rabbit, ..., and turtles weighing up to 15 or 20 pounds. There are also many snakes: green, grey, and black ones, and rattlesnakes. "The birds are as in Switzerland, except that we do not have storks or vultures. Eagles are plentiful, ... In the summer there are so many fireflies, which fly at night, that one thinks fire flames were flying in the air. "Here the days are 2 hours shorter in the summer and 2 hours longer in the winter. The summer is warmer, but the winter just as cold as in Switzerland. Snow is the same. The English leave their cattle outside, in the woods, all winter long, as they have no stables. Many of their animals freeze to death. The Germans have stables, and the English are starting to follow their example. "Many faiths and religions may be found here: The Catholics have no rights and are not allowed to stand against others. Further, there are Herrnhutters, Mennonites, Separatists, Quakers, Newborns, New Mooners, Saturday Baptists, which hold their sabbath on Saturday, many Sunday Baptists, Dunkers, and Jews. "There are many who form their own little groups. Some in this country have even preached as though no eternity is to be expected, and have said that a nice little bag of money is enough to be the right helper in need, and believe as if there is no God in heaven. They may no longer preach like this, for it is forbidden with high penalty. "I know nothing further of Johannes Recher. Though I have asked much about him I have not been able to learn anything. I have a mind to put him in the weekly paper. Fritz and Hans Recher have moved further through Virginia...into the land, but they are even more sloppy house-keepers than they were in Switzerland. "Before Easter 1752 I moved from Hans Hemmig closer to the city of York where cousin Heiny Buser lives. I work here in the trade under a master craftsman and have each week 3L and 2 or 3 'batzen' [shillings?] as wages. Everything is 3 or 4 times as expensive as in Switzerland. A pair of men's shoes cost 3L, a pair of women's shoes 1 'taler.' If one wants to buy only a .... it costs up to 3 'batzen.' an evening view of Frederick Co., MD, looking east from the Jerusalem Cemetery. "Much-beloved father, mother, brother and sisters, please write to me as soon as you have the time and opportunity. Let me know how everything is. "I am still planning, the Lord granting me health and life, to journey to Switzerland once my little bag of money has 'gained some strength.' When I came to this country I owed 100 pounds in debts, but I have been able to pay it all back in one year. Hans Hemmig was...surety. "Father, when you write to me again, do not send so many greetings, since I can not deliver them all.... "...I greet you once again: father and mother, brother and all sisters... Meanwhile, everything committed into the hands of the good Lord. "York, 28, month of wine [October] 1753, Peter Recher in York across Susquehanna"

Burial: Lutheran/German Reformed Cemetery, Jerusalem, MD; Fact 1: helped build Union (Lutheran/German) Reformed Church (destroyed), Jerusalem, MD; 2nd person buried in cemetery there; Fact 2: first settled in Adams Co., PA; later moved to Frederick Co., MD; Fact 3: two daughters listed in baptismal records of Reformed & Lutheran Churches, Lower Bermudian, Adams Co., PA; Fact 4: 1762, purchased 45 acres in Frederick Co., MD; later 2 other tracts of land "Short Pipe" (30 acres) & "Anna" (20 acres); Fact 5: April 12, 1771, naturalized in Frederick Co., MD ; Fact 6: letters compiled by Klaus Hein, printed in October 1992 "Mennonite Family History"; Fact 7: picture of cottage home, Wolfsville; torn down in 1935; At right is a drawing done of the Peter Recher cabin near Wolfsville, MD,; artist unknown. The cabin was torn down in 1935. Fact 8: pictures of Peter's birthplace (house & stables), Recher family home since 1610; Rechers still occupy it, Ziefen, Switzerland, near Basel; Fact 9: died intestate; Fact 10: listed in "Names in Stone" by Holdcraft; Immigration: 1751, Age 27 from Ziefen, Switzerland, on Rhine River, on the "Queen of Denmark"; arrived Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 4, 1751; Children of PETER RECHER and ANNA LEATHERMAN are: i. MARY ANN7 RECHER, b. Abt. 1760, Pennsylvania; d. November 02, 1843, Wolfsville, MD; m. GODFREY LEATHERMAN, JR., 1781, Jerusalem, Lutheran/German Reformed Church, 6 miles from Wolfsville, MD; b. February 10, 1748, Lancaster County, PA; d. Bet. 1836 - 1839, Wolfsville, MD. ii. SUSANNA RECHER, b. 1757, Pennsylvania. iii. ELIZABETH MARGARET RECHER, b. December 27, 1758, York Co., PA; d. February 01, 1818; m. JOSEPH LEATHERMAN, 1785; b. December 10, 1766; d. December 07, 1837. More About ELIZABETH MARGARET RECHER: 1: 1 daughter, Margaret; iv. PETER RECHER, JR., b. August 15, 1763; d. June 03, 1833; m. ELIZABETH PROTZMAN; b. November 27, 1769; d. February 01, 1836. More About PETER RECHER, JR.: 1: 11 children; 2: moved to Montgomery Co., Ohio; v. JOHN RECHER, b. Abt. 1765; d. December 1803. Generation No. 7 1. MARY ANN7 RECHER (PETER6, MARTIN5, MARTIN4, MARTIN3, URSUS/DURS2, MARTIN1) was born Abt. 1760 in Pennsylvania, and died November 02, 1843 in Wolfsville, MD. She married GODFREY LEATHERMAN, JR. 1781 in Jerusalem, Lutheran/German Reformed Church, 6 miles from Wolfsville, MD, son of GOTTFRIED LEDERMAN and HANNAH BOLTZ/HOLTZ. He was born February 10, 1748 in Lancaster County, PA, and died Bet. 1836 - 1839 in Wolfsville, MD. [MARY ANN RECHER was the niece of GODFREY LEATHERMAN, JR., her husband.] More About MARY ANN RECHER: Fact 1: walked 6 miles with sweetheart Godfrey from Wolfsville to Jerusalem to be married in Union Reformed Church, which her father helped build (see pictures above);