2010-07-08 / Local & State

Clan Gathers In Pa. To Mark 300 Years In America

WOMELSDORF, Pa. (AP) – Fourteen-year-old Harris Fears says he has trouble coming to grips with the idea that he has three centuries of family history in America.

“That’s a really long time,’’ said Fears, who came from Florida along with his grandmother for an eastern Pennsylvania reunion of descendants of Conrad Weiser. “I told my history teachers about it, and they were amazed that our family has been in America that long.’’

Fears was one of about 200 descendants of Weiser marking the Fourth of July holiday weekend at the site where their family took root 66 years before the American Revolution.

Conrad Weiser, who was instrumental in the founding of Reading and Berks County, was 14 when his family emigrated from Germany to New York in 1710. He moved to the Tulpehocken area in 1729, where he built a farmhouse on 890 acres. A skilled negotiator, Weiser figured in every major treaty with the region’s Indians between 1731 and 1758.

Tim Weiser, president of the Weiser Family Association, said a family genealogy done 14 years ago lists 88,000 descendants of Conrad Weiser.

“It all started when all the Palatinates came to America,’’ said the 59-year-old York County farmer, referring to the region in Germany where the Weiser family originated.

Weiser descendants, who ranged in age from 2 to 92, came from all over the country for the reunion, paying tribute to the family patriarch at the Weiser Homestead in Womelsdorf. On Sunday, they were to tour the Trappe home of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, who in 1745 married Conrad’s daughter, Anna Weiser.

Nancy Baue, 73, came from her Montana cattle ranch for the 300th anniversary of the migration. The ninth-generation descendant paused to consider what it was like to come from Germany to American when it was still a British colony.

“How they must have sacrificed,’’ she said, her voice cracking as she scanned the landscape under a huge oak at the homestead. “My knees get weak thinking of them.’’

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