The Antes Family

by Arthur  J. Lawton


Philip Frederick Antes immigrated to Pennsylvania from Freinsheim in the German Palatinate, some 20 kilometers west of Ludwigshafn Am Rhein, where his 6 children were baptized in the Reformed Church, of whom three died in Freinsheim.  He arrived in Philadelphia sometime before purchasing land in Montgomery County in 1722, bringing with him his wife Katherina, his eldest son Johann Henrich, baptized July 17, 1701 and a daughter, Maria Elisabeth, baptized March 29, 1711. 

Rapid ownership of land, domestic, agricultural and industrial buildings indicates this was a Burger family of substantial financial means who were quickly able to invest their resources and skills. Their innkeeping, milling and wheel-wrighting skills are characteristics of craft and commerce that point to upper socio-economic origins in the Palatinate. The Freinsheim Kirchenbuch records the confirmation of their son Johann Jakob in 1719 and already on February 20, 1722, Philip Frederick purchased a tract of land containing 154 acres. The journey to Philadelphia included financing food, lodging, tolls and passage for both family and goods to Rotterdam, to England, then  to Philadelphia and on to Germantown, a journey three months if all went well and half year or more if not. It is difficult to see arrival in Pennsylvania before late 1720, around  a year before purchasing land. 

Philip then built an inn that was “a well built 2 story log house, with two chimneys placed toward the middle.”  There was a fireplace in the public room and a larger fireplace in the kitchen, with two fireplaces also on the second floor. Young Henry, based on his subsequent career, had the skills to direct construction himself, and we simple do not know Philip Frederick’s skills other than that he farmed and kept an inn. The cost to clear the land, fell the timber, erect and finish the details of the inn, furnished and stock it with supplies, construct the necessary agricultural outbuildings and to purchase agricultural equipment, seed and livestock was substantial. 

At some point after John Henry’s arrival he engaged with William Dewees to build a grist mill at the  paper mill at Crefeld in Germantown. On February 2, 1726, he married Dewees’s daughter Christina.  On February 2, 1730 he bought from his father in law the “grist mill, with two pair of stones, a paper mill with a certain a tract of land situate in Crefelt… containing 93 acres, 3 roods (rods) and 21 perches, including mill house, toll profits, mill geers and utensils.”  This document was a mortgage paid off by June of 1738, and on it he is he is listed as a carpenter and resident in New Hanover Township. While there is no direct evidence for this to date other than the evident fact of his rapid and successful relationship with William Dewees, one wonders if this venture may have benefited to some extent from the financial resources of the family.    

On October 9, 1735, while still paying on the mortgage for the Crefeld mill, he purchased 175 acres in Upper Frederick Township from John Hagerman situated on the West branch of the Swamp Creek. Here, on January 28, 1736, in a joint venture with neighboring landowner George Hubner, he also purchased a tract of 28 acres for “the better accommodation of a certain grist mill” with a double set of stones that he and George Hubner had built of log on Henry’s land along the Swamp Creek. Adalaide Fries’ novelized life story of Anna Catherina based on her Lebenslauf (a short autobiography customary among the early Moravians) describes the mill as having several dwelling rooms, the family having lived there until their permanent home was finished.  

The 1734 the tax list of Upper Frederick Township listed forty taxable males. 23 (57.5%) owned land and of these 23, 9 (22.5%) owned more than 100 acres. Henry’s 175 and 28 acre purchases totaling 203 acres made him a larger landholder than any in the tax list of just two years earlier, in addition to which he owned the mill in Crefeld with 93 acres of land. Within 15 years of arrival, this extended family together owned 450 acres, two mills with 4 pairs of grinding stones, a paper mill, an inn with 4 fireplaces and a two story stone house in Upper Frederick Township, together with all the pertinent outbuildings and operating equipment and supplies on the three properties. Here Johann Henrich, and Catherina raised nine children; Anna Catherina, born November 20, 1726, Anna Margaretha, born September 9, 1728, Philip Frederick, born July 5, 1730, William, born November 21, 1731, Elisabeth, born February 10, 1734,  John Henry, born October 5, 1736, Mary Magdalena, born October 28, 1742, Joseph, born January 8, 1745, and Benigna, born September 16, 1748.       

The Antes dwelling has been restored by the Goschenhoppen Historians Inc. It is a substantial two story stone house with double attic and many characteristics of a prosperous German burger’s home. The large Stube was heated in winter by a stove fed through the rear fireplace wall. much of the day to day social and family discourse probably took place in the large kitchen. The heated Stube was comfortable year round for work and purposeful social gatherings such as sacred and secular meetings that on occasion included communal musical activities. 

Built just before the onset of the symmetrical Georgian style that was soon to sweep the country side, symmetrical gable fenestration and asymmetrical façade fenestration combined with symmetrical and asymmetrical steps evident in the analysis of  the ground rules of the house determining placement of the plan lines on the ground, suggest a methodological transition for organizing architectural space parallel to the concurrent transition taking place in the organization of musical practice, changes that indicate transition from Pre-Modern to Modern cultural patterns for ordering life.  

The Community

Henry’s house and mill and his father’s inn were well situated to benefit from traffic between the frontier to north and west, as well as from cross county traffic. The house and mill were equidistant from two main routes radiating from Philadelphia to the hinterlands beyond, the “Big Road” through Skippack and Frederick, authorized in 1726, and the Limerick Road through Falkner Swamp to Oley, authorized in 1723. A Cross county  road from Pottstown by way Fagleysville passed the Antes inn and Henry’s mill and house, continuing on to Perkiomenville and Sumneytown and beyond. 

By the mid 1740’s, Henry Antes’ plantation was important to the many Moravians as one of the overnight stops along their well traveled route from Philadelphia to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, some 30 miles up country. Others stops were Theodore Endt in Germantown, Christopher Wiegner, Peter Bonn and John Kooken in Skippack and Abraham Muller in Great Swamp. In 1742 the group of Moravian immigrants known as the First Sea Congregation stayed overnight in the Antes home on their way to Bethlehem, and in the evening held a Singstunde. In that same year the Moravian hymnal Hirtenlieder von Bethlehem was advertised as available at Henry Antes’ home. 

Most permanent community residents were prosperous landowners fitting Burke’s mediator class, most following some craft or trade specialty as a supplement to the agricultural year. Nearly all were German immigrants.  Georg Philip Dodderer owned 150 acres, and was a carpenter and in 1728, he was on the consistory of the Falkner Swamp Reformed Church congregation.  William Frey next door is listed as taxable for 150 acres in 1734, and was closely associated with Henry Antes’ activities for the Moravians in Bethlehem in the 1740’s. 

John Nice bought 200 acres from his father Hans Neus and was a tanner in Upper Frederick Township. His will was probated on June 22, 1743 by executors Mary Nyce and Henry Antes, and his estate, real and personal, totaled £913 6s. Henry Antes’ estate, inventoried in 1755, was valued at £ 1214 s6 d9, exclusive of real estate. By 1750, this was a prosperous community having both the material means and access to the city of Philadelphia to acquire musical resources and to express themselves musically within the dictates of their religious beliefs. 

There was of course, an alternate population consisting in 1734 of the families of the 17 taxable residents that did not own land. Most boarded or rented by a variety of arrangements, providing labor necessary to local agriculture, supplemental crafts and craft industries. Lutheran and the Reformed pastors serving the Falkner Swamp community at this time noted that many in the community who did not possess land were only briefly resident, passing as soon as possible further out to the frontier.   

Early pedagogical resources in the newly settled communities depended on education through local congregations. The Ante family members were of the Reformed congregation at New Hanover. In 1725 there were some fifty Reformed families across the twenty some miles from the lower end of Whitpain Township where their leader Johann Philip Boehm had settled, to the upper end of New Hanover Township. In July of 1728, Henry’s father, Philip Frederick, signed a letter to the Reverend Classis in Amsterdam petitioning it to legalize the liturgical activities of Boehm. A deed mentioned earlier and dated February 2, 1730, notes that Henry was a resident of New Hanover Township and so surely a member of the New Hanover Reformed congregation at that time. These early immigrant congregations met on Sundays in barns and houses to pray and sing hymns together and to listen as one of them read a sermon from a sermon book.  

A report by Boehm to the Classis and Synods indicates John Reifsnyder taught in a school at the Falkner Swamp congregation as early as 1739.  This school is mentioned in a letter of Reverend Leydich to Reverend Michael Schlatter in 1749. It was still there in 1774, when Frederick Antes, the son of Henry, received £1 s.10.d- for fruit furnished to the schoolmaster. Livengood noted that the common curriculum elements in the Reformed schools of the 18th century generally included music under the arm of religious instruction, though he does not specify just what this musical instruction was.

In 1760 the school regulations of the Philadelphia congregation required the schoolmaster to be qualified in reading, writing, arithmetic and singing. Music instruction served to teach children both text and melodies of hymns. Rural congregations frequently lacked hymnals, most of which were text only. Suzanne Gross and Wesley Berg, writing about the Notenbüchlein (manuscript tune books) of the Mennonites, note that the many tune variants found within the Notenbüchlein give evidence of a “hymn singing tradition independent from written sources, and suggest oral tradition was the source of the Franconia Mennonite hymn tunes other than the Psalms in the years leading up to 1780, observations likely true for other denominations. 

To understand the role of an oral singing tradition we can look at the Moravian tradition of the Singstunde, an important community-building element described by Alice Caldwell in Pleasing for our Use. Count Zinzendorf, leader of the Moravians, describes it thus.

…we do not sing entire hymns as is usually the case…The cantor takes the material of the sermon…and puts together, while singing…verses from twenty or thirty hymns which presents the material in an orderly and articulate fashion. In this the cantor, organist, preacher and listeners are so practiced that nobody hesitates or needs to open a book…When my ten year old son plays for our family Singstunden, he is able to connect one melody to another so seamlessly that no one knows the entire Singstunde was not espressly composed that way…


Zinzendorf describes his ability to call forth hymn verses from memory in the following passage. 

(Back) Then, I was able to sing about eighty hymns by heart and on one day in Herrnhaag I once sang seven, one of which was 107 verses long.


David Sabean clarifies this kind of memorization in daily life and its important consequences in the dynamics of social change. He distinguishes thematic memorization in Early Modern German thought from verbatim memorization, pointing to another transitional process from Early Modern to Modern practices. 

One has to make a distinction between verbatim and thematic memorization from the outset – the memorization of words rather than things… When memorization involves schemata or themes, then the oral performer can be part of the creative process, working the themes but showing his own skill in the variation…by expecting word for word memorization, the state/church was making a serious inroad into the ability of communal culture to generate its own terms…Oral education and  (its) memorization were part of a long term program of the state to discipline rural society and make its culture dependant…All the reformers understood the importance of the preaching office, especially in its ability to organize culture…An army of officials trained in the written word were at war with oral culture. 


Albert Lord’s study of thematic memorization in the performance of Jugoslavian epic provides a detailed discussion of the practice of thematic memory in musical performance. Thematic memory continued to be practiced in the Little Community as  its space was being penetrated by Sabean’s verbatim memory, just as asymmetrical architectural space was being penetrated by the symmetrical Georgian house, and the soloistic and virtuosic musical practiceof individual performers in the space of local musical expression was being penetrated  by the idea of single artistic vision by large ensembles and the separation of the listening audience from the musicians by the chancel rail, the theater proscenium or the edge of the stage. 

  From the Antes children we have some specific information on musical life within the family. Anna Catherina stated in her Lebenslauf that she learned to sing and to play by note on her father’s clavier. The most likely location in the house for her father’s clavier is the Stube, heated as it is in the winter by the 6 or 10 plate stove or by a tile oven which was situated adjacent to the rear wall of the fireplace. There is no indication whether it was a spinet, free standing along a wall, or a clavichord, which could took the form of a lap instrument.  This room was large enough to house the instrument, and as mentioned earlier, was the likely location for a purposeful social or religious gathering such as a Singstunde. 

Anna Catherina was born in 1726, and the house was built in 1736 when she was ten years old. At this age she was memorizing hymn texts and melodies and was old enough to learn to sing and to play by note on her father’s clavier. Her musical education may well have begun earlier,. In Fries’  novelized biography of Anna Catherina, she says  

When I was about seven years old ( 1733) my father engaged a tutor to teach me and several of the neighbor children…The tutor lived at the inn, and there was no difficulty about attending classes…  I easily learned to read, and memorized the Shorter Catechism during the first winter.


Sometime between this reference in 1733 and the 1739 reference mentioning Reifsnyder as the teacher, the Reformed congregation began their school and there thereafter music would become a regular part of her learning activities. Anna Catherina was learning the memory skills that will enable her to participate in Moravian musical activities such as the Singstunde and in this way, among others, to validate her lifelong place in the faith and community of the Moravians.

John Henry was the sixth child, born in 1736, and while music was secondary to his primary career as a Moravian missionary, his accomplishments as an instrument maker and a composer resonate impressively with his musical training. In 1747 when John was eleven years old, his father purchased a violin for him from Samuel Powell. In 1745 his father and most of the family had moved to Bethlehem to become the senior civilis (senior manager of the civil affairs of the community) for the Moravian community. During this time the house served as a boy’s school from 1745 to 1750. John and William remained in Friedrichstown to be educated at the school in their home. John began his musical education here under the highly capable Moravian musician John Pyrlaeus, who taught in and headed the school at its close in 1750. In 1752, John entered the school in Bethlehem where he gained a classical education and where musical training was strongly emphasized. 

Donald McCorkle quotes Rufus Grider to say that John made a trio of stringed instruments of which one is extant and signed “Johann Antes in Bethlehem, 1759,” the viola and cello having disappeared. He notes that Grider, writing in 1870, “said that the ‘cello was in the Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem. This instrument, he informs us, was marked ‘Johann Antes me fecit in Bethlehem, 1764.’” Musical instruments made by John Antes while he was living in England were preserved in Bristol until they were discarded as trash during World War II. Late in his life he summarized experiments he had made toward improvements in piano hammers, violin tuning and violin bows in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, in which he also mentions his friend, the impresario Johann Salomon as Mein Freund, Herr Salomon in London.  

Sometime between February 1770 and December 1781, he composed three trios for two violins and cello, one in E-Flat major, one in D minor and one in C major.  They were probably composed in Cairo, Egypt while recuperating from torture received as a Moravian missionary. They were published as opus 3, indicating two prior publications. At the time of McCorkle’s writing, there were 38 known works by him, twenty-five concerted vocal compositions and thirteen chorale melodies.  

                            ( from later in the paper)

In 1742, Christopher Saur printed for the Moravians their hymnal Hirtenlieder von Bethlehem, which was noted earlier as available at the home of Henry Antes in Friedrichs Town.


The following material is from a short local history of Freinsheim by Otto Klamm. The text in italics is my observations and thoughts about the material. K.O. Bull, referred to sometimes in the material, wrote a dissertation on the economic development of Freinsheim, and published a couple of books on economic development of the Freinsheimer towns.   


From a table in K. O Bull, the following (trades and crafts) appear for the year 1700:

baker – 2, butcher – 2, miller – 2, locksmith – 1, smith – 2, tin-smith - 2, cartwright – 4, glazier – 1, joiner – 2, mason – 2, carpenter – 2, saddler – 1, tailor – 1, shoemaker – 1, weaver – 2, barber – 1, chimney-sweep – 1, cooper – 2. In 1700, 11 years after the 1689 destruction, there is at a minimum, the makings of a small town. Probably the best way to think about these craftsmen is, in light of Bull’s observation that early on after the destruction, the houses were smaller and set further apart, that they had, either within the wall or outside the wall, some arable ground for garden and crops and rights to town-controlled forest and pasturage, by which they could support their family regardless of how much work they had in their craft. There were two millers, and thus two grist mills, two bakers and two butchers. The presence of a glazier, a barber, a locksmith and four wagon-makers suggests that there was at least some degree of prosperity,in a town in which there was as yet considerable open, though perhaps wreckage-strewn space.    

K.O. Bull adds this to the table in addition: “…It is to be born in mind that it is a question of 26 master craftsmen indicated by the documents as artisans. The real number was certainly higher.” 


The Orleanic War (also known as the Nine years War or the War of the League of Augsburg, 1688-1697, ending with the peace of Ryswick) then brought an end to the Middle Age heart of the small City. Already on 31 May 1689, the cities of Oppenheim, Worms and Speyer had gone up in flames by the French troops under General Duras, and likewise this fate overran Freinsheim in the time between 25 and 27 September of the same year. The French had, as appears from the report of the old Jost Wiegand, set up their camp in the (“Schleidt” ?) between Freinsheim and Erpolzheim. The wood for their campfire they ventured to fetch from the Chapel of Our Beloved Lady on the hill. The fruit from the trees, and the grapes, insomuch as they were ripe, likewise found their gatherers. Probably Freinsheim’s men and women fled at the approach of the French troops. The sight of the three burning Rhine cities – just four months before – foretold to them no good. Whether anyone had announced the burning down of the town to the population a day or so before – as had happened in Worms and Speyer – all of that can no longer be determined, since all of the Council protocols, and the Church books fell sacrificed to the flames along with the houses, stables and barns. The destruction was profound. 


Some eighteen years later (1707)  a report says 


To Your Excellency and Majesty: it is unfortunately altogether well known and recognized as a result of the past war that the small town of Freinsheim was reduced to ashes and ruin by the fire and flames, to such a degree that not a stable remains standing; that the blaze consumed the entire church building,…and by the enemy’s hand its arches were struck down. Thus only the bare wall still stands…


As the Reformed Church Book of Lampertheim bei Mannheim notes, during these difficult days 23 Freinsheim men, women and children fled there and found refuge. The wounds of the Orleans Wars were not yet healed – only in 1698 could the pastor start again a church book, - and then there broke out the War of the Spanish Succession (in 1701). Again the inhabitants were placed in anxiety and fear, and the pastor, ahead of the French, brought the new Church Book and the congregation their wine “over the Rhine.” Though no artillery shelling occurred at the not yet fully rebuilt place, the Freinsheimers nevertheless had to raise again the difficult “contributions,” above all, cartage service and commandeered horses, entirely aside from money. The town records from 1701 to 1706 give evidence of this. The war lasted from 1701 to 1714, but the records after 1706 are lost. In the midst of these war years there began nevertheless, a functional improvement for the place. From the town of Freinsheim developed the Unteramtstadt (Lower Jurisdictional town) of Freinsheim, which was the administrative center point for ten localities. 


(If the Philipp Friedrich Anthes born in 1675 and identified by Gunther Anthes as the probable father of Henry Antes, had his first son Henry’s baptism recorded in the new Freinsheim Kirchenbuch in 1701, he must have arrived in Freinsheim after reaching adulthood, somewhat around 1695-1700, six to eleven years after the destruction of 1689 in a war that lasted from 1688 to 1697.  Klamm notes in the section on the Freinsheim markets, that “In a report on the active property of the community in the year 1686, the Over-mayor established that former stall rentals from the local markets no longer existed. The Oberamt Alzey was asked to permit the stall rental claims to be established.” Thus during this time there were neither yearly nor weekly markets in Freinsheim, indicative of a local economy at a very low ebb.  The 1707 report cited above notes that “Freinsheim was reduced to ashes and ruin by the fire and flames, to such a degree that not a stable remains standing.”  The war of 1701 apparently sent the Freinsheimers across the Rhine for protection, probably before the Kirchenbuch records were lost following 1706. In the period that Philipp Friedrich Antes and family are known to have been living in Freinsheim, only the years 1697 to 1701 and 1714 to their departure for Pennsylvania around 1720 were years in which the Freinsheim area was free of war and its social costs. The families living in Freinsheim would have been subject to the “contributions” of service, commandeered materials and stock, and money payments. Broader economic histories of the region agree that in general a reconstruction and prosperity did not even begin to develop until after the war ended in 1714, though Freinsheim may have developed to some extent at an earlier date due to its establishment as an Unteramt Alzey town in 1705.Thus 1695 to 1720 could hardly have been an easy time for the Antes family living in Freinsheim. 


Immigration to Freinsheim following the destruction

Since however every bit of underlying evidence from the period 1650 to 1689 disappeared as a result of the destruction of Freinsheim, nothing can be determined about immigration to Freinsheim during this period. On the contrary, A summary then would seem appropriate; in the years from 1698 to 1728 the were indicated in the Lutheran Church Book, 22 unions, and in the Reformed Book, 67 unions. Regarding the 22 Lutheran weddings, in 20 cases the bridegroom came from outside  (p. 200)  and in four cases the bride did so. Of the 67 Reformed marriages in 40 cases the man came from outside and in 16 cases the bride came from some part of Germany. Of the same 89 men that joined in marriage here, 60 were not from Freinsheim and of the 89 brides, 20 came from outside. Within these totals, in six cases both the marriage partners were not born in Freinsheim.

The church books of Dackenheim (from 1634), Weisenheim am Sand (from 1653) and kallstadt (1656), contain numerous indications of immigration from other areas. Since in these three places in the years between 1650 and 1689, there were men and women immigrating, in the same manner it can be understood with confidence that it was so with Freinsheim also. Immigration for Freinsheim can be established after 1700. The sources for this are the church book of the Reformed Church, newly established  in 1698, for the Lutheran in 1706 and for the Catholic in 1746. However it should be noted that many Catholics from Freinsheim appear in the Dackenheim Catholic church book established in 1698. 


The best information on the place of origin of the “Bride and Groom” is given in the “Coupling Register.” One cannot work out every coupling in all details in this structure. There will be given only the place from which the bride or groom came, and if possible, the calling of the marriage candidate. In the time from 1698 to 1728 – thus over a period of thirty years – there came the following: ..... 


A summary then would seem appropriate; in the years from 1698 to 1728 the were indicated in the Lutheran Church Book, 22 unions, and in the Reformed Book, 67 unions. Regarding the 22 Lutheran weddings, in 20 cases the bridegroom came from outside  (p. 200)  and in four cases the bride did so. Of the 67 Reformed marriages in 40 cases the man came from outside and in 16 cases the bride came from some part of Germany. Of the same 89 men that joined in marriage here, 60 were not from Freinsheim and of the 89 brides, 20 came from outside. Within these totals, in six cases both the marriage partners were not born in Freinsheim.


Freinsheim Mills

  1. 103)  At one time the town possessed two mills. One was located “at the fortification or little castle lying outside Freinsheim,” the other on the Isenach “above Erpolzheim.” The mill by the little castle appears hardly to have played any role in the supply of the local population, for it had “for it produced for the town, one and one half malters (1 malter = ca. 150 liters) of grain from the mill.” Its location can no longer be precisely determined. Probably it was located on the southeast side of the present castle graveyard. It definitely was destroyed in 1689 along with the castle, and then was built again, as it appears in the traditional precedents of 1737 as  mentioned above. Reduced water-flow may well have made its operation unprofitable.


To the contrary, regarding the mill on the Isenach that was specific to the town, we know more. It may be read in an article in “Die Rheinpfalz” from the year 1951. The Erpolzheim upper mill (Obermühle) was built by the town of Freinsheim. As a result of clearing the streambed in the year 1926, there was found a stone with the inscription Anno MDCXVII, 1617. This mill was built by the community of Freinsheim. The stone, so the article further reports, was senselessly dashed to pieces. That this mill did in fact belong to Freinsheim proceeds from other sources. In the year 1686 – thus two years before the destruction of Freinsheim.The community had to present an appraisal of its possessions to Oberamt Alzey. It says therein that “the town has a community mill lying on the Erpolzheim brook, that Sebastian Steygledern bought as an inheritance asset, from which perpetually eight Malters of grain are to be deposited…so that a secular (periodic?) school master can be obtained…. A secular (periodic ?) over-mayor has directed that everywhere in the Erpolzheim precinct, two mornings of his service be in effect in this community.” In the year 1702, so it says in the purchase record, the major-general von Junker bought the mill from the estate of Steygledern, but divided this purchase in half with the Freinsheim burgher Hans peter Weilbrenner. Five years later the son of Herr von Junker sold his part of the mill to the so-named hans Peter Weilbrenner “Kieffermeister (?)” for 270 Gulden of customary money of the Reich. Weilbrenner must now give, since the town still owned a seventh part of the mill, not just as up to that time six malters but twelve malters of grain to the town of Freinsheim (on the Martini ?). 


The Freinsheim mill is again mentioned in the short style of the Weistumer (governing precepts originally transmitted orally “from time immemorable” and eventually codified in writing) from the year 1750. Here the miller is named as Christian Schmidt. He also must give to the town of Freinsheim 12 malters of grain and must clean the millrace yearly. But he was not buried in the Freinsheim cemetery, since he was “Mennoniste” and thus a Mennonite. If however, a miller was one of the three recognized and tolerated Christian religions, Reformed, Lutheran or Catholic, then he could be buried according to the old traditional burial customs.