A Myth Dispelled
The Henry Antes House located on Colonial Road, Upper Frederick Township, is presently the only National Historic Landmark in Pennsylvania under the category of Vernacular Architecture. As early as 1963 an informal assembly of interested persons that would later incorporate as The Goschenhoppen Historians, Inc., took an active interest in the house and began working cooperatively with the Girls Scouts of Philadelphia who owned the property, and the Antes Family Association.
The Goschenhoppen Historians acted, in large part, as stewards of the house until, after twenty-five
years of endeavor, they became owners in 1987. They immediately undertook stabilization of the structure and planning for its restoration which is ongoing today.
Johann Heinrich Antes, the eldest son of Philip Frederick and Anna Catharina Antes, was born in Freinsheim, Germany, on July 11, 1701. In 1721 he arrived in Philadelphia with his parents and one sister, Maria Elizabeth. On February 20, 1723 his father, Philip Frederick, purchased 154 acres of land in what became New Hanover Township. The site is now the location of Bella Vista golf course. John Henry followed a few years later with his wife Christina DeWees with whom he had eleven children. He built a mill on the Swamp Creek and the associated large stone house during the 1730’s. This was still an early date for settlement in this area and Antes can be counted as a pioneer. The first record we have of Henry Antes in New Hanover is 1728 when his name appears on a petition to the Governor for protection from threatening Indians.
Many a book and article has been written about Henry Antes, but to recount his significance in Pennsylvania history and in the history of the Moravian and German Reformed Churches is beyond the scope of these short columns. Suffice it to say that he was an important historical figure. The internet will yield almost countless references to him and his descendents, many of whom were people of international prominence, and who today number in the many thousands.
The thesis of this short article, though, is to put a disclaimer on one bit of internet lore regarding the roots of the Antes family. Online, the story persists that the Antes were of aristocratic stock and had lost possession of estates and titles sometime during the centuries of religious wars during the Protestant Reformation. Typical is the following:
“In the Dictionary of American Biography it is stated that “an ancestor” of Philip Frederick, Baron Von Blume from Mainz, had hellenized his German name into its Greek equivalent Antes in order to escape persecution during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), this some 75 or 80 years before an Antes came to America. And in the Genealogy of Henry Onderdonk, written in about 1870 … is stated: “John Frederick Antes was born Baron Von Blume, head of a noble family of the German Palatinate. He took to a monastic life and changed his name to the Greek equivalent -- anthos -- a flower -- corrupted since into Antes. He became a protestant, and to escape persecution came to this country, married, and settled.”
Unfortunately there is not a particle of evidence to support this story which seems to have been created in America. In fact, Antes family researchers in Germany have conclusively traced Antes genealogy to at least eight generations before Henry’s birth and before the start of the Protestant Reformation. The Antes were tradesmen.
A very abbreviated sketch of the Antes family genealogy follows. The story starts with NICLAS von BREIDENAU (1450-1520) who had a son JOHANNES(1480-1543). Johannes married, against his father’s wishes, KATHARINA von FUTER who died in 1547. They had removed from Breidenau because he had been disinherited by his father for having deserted the church and marrying after his father had sent him to school to become a priest. He did not inherit his parents’ property, which fell to his third son, named ANTONIUS. ANTONIUS (or ANTHONY or ANTHES) after inherited his grandfather’s property lived in Meisenheim. From this son arose the family name known as ANTHIS or ANTHES. He was born about 1505 and died in 1552.
Next in line was HANS ANTHES (1530-1608), a cloth weaver. He married in 1560 ENGEL THEIN daughter of WOLF THEIN (born 1538). She died in 1609. One of their children was KONRAD ANTHES (1580 d.-before 1622) also a cloth weaver. He married (1605) Ursula_____, and one of their children was JOHANN LEONARD ANTHES (1609-1665) a cooper who married (1630) KATHARINE NEUMANN. One of his children was JOHANN GEORGE ANTHES (1641-d. before 1711), also a cooper, who married ANNA ENGLE LINBACH. One of their children was PHILIP FREDERICK ANTHES (born 1675) who marr ied ANNA KATHARINE_____ and who came to Pennsylvania with two of his six children and settled in New Hanover Township. He died in1746 and is buried in the family cemetery on the Antes Plantation. His son JOHANN HENRICH, or HENRY ANTES married ((1726) CHRISTINA ELIZABETH DEWEES (born 1702 died 1782) with whom he had eleven children.
The legacy of Antes continues through his children and relates to the house. Particularly noteworthy is his son Frederick, a Colonel in the Continental Militia and friend of George Washington. General Washington used the house as his headquarters for several days during the Fagleysville encampment.
– Robert Wood