Saturday, October 11, 2014

#33- Jacob Brinker & Susannah Hinkel from Switzerland to Western Pennsylvania

Jacob Brinker was born in 1727 in Switzerland and arrived in Philadelphia in 1735 with his parents at the age of 8.  I was working on a perplexing problem: why did they come? Why did these German-speakers take passage to Philadelphia.
Many researchers have assumed they were Mennonite or Moravian (as I did).
Once I looked at their life in the New World, I realized they either strayed far from that immediately or they weren't either of them.
There were so many religious groups finding freedom from religious persecution in Europe and many gravitated to Pennsylvania. It can be difficult to distinguish one group from another, but at that time, it would have been a good deal easier.
It Can Be Important to Get your Ancestor's Religious Affiliation Right
A family researcher wrote that a common ancestor of mine must have been a Mennonites and not a Quaker. But his "proof" was singular and it was inaccurate: he said, their religious affiliation had preachers in the 1700s, and "Quakers didn't have preachers." That's not true, the Quakers did have preachers prior to the Orthodox/Hicksite split in the early 1800s.
There is a good reason why we get Mennonites, Amish, Shakers and Quakers confused.
In the early part of their history (not so much now), they all had two areas of PRACTICE (that which everyone saw, not theology) which overlapped: 1) pacifists 2) simplicity.

Areas which used to overlap
However, in theology, in religious belief, these groups were very different.
There were those "Anabaptists" (a broad term) which included some Protestant groups, many of which came from Continental Europe. Some examples of Anabaptists are Moravians, United Brethren, Hutterites, etc.
Amongst the Anabaptist groups which immigrated to Pennsylvania two were Mennonite and Amish.
How are those two related? See chart:
How the Mennonite & Amish were related

Two unique religious groups originated in England and not the Continent. They immigrated to New England, New York, PA and New Jersey (largely), and were related in similar way. These were not Anabaptists. They are the Society of Friends (called Quakers) and the Shakers.
How are those two related? See chart:

How the Quakers & Shakers were related.
But, how different is a Quaker from a Shaker?  Quite!
This chart shows the practices unique to Shakers, which the Quakers (Friends) have never shared

Unique to the Shakers
To sum it all up, I made a handy-dandy "rough" guide. Though it's not comprehensive, the spaces with green indicates areas of differences, while the yellow spaces show general areas of similarities.
The Shakers & Amish are at the bottom, as they were derived from the group above it.

How did Andreas Brinker (Post #39) and his family fit in? As I searched I found no Lutheran or Moravian Church records, for him nor his son, Jacob Brinker (till much later). 
As a German-speaking Swiss, I figured Andreas was  a Moravian or possibly Mennonite. (Already knowing he was not Quaker). But I found nothing till I stumbled on the "Middle Way" or Schwenkfelder Protestants who had been forced out of their areas and finally from the protection of Zinzendorf (who had also helped Mennonites).
The Mennonites were quite helpful to the getting ocean passage for the Schwenkfelders  which may be why researchers thought Brinkers were Mennonites. And then I found Andreas Brinker on the Brigantine Mary with other fleeing Schwenkfelders. Had Andreas (and Jacob's) life in the colony been with Mennonites or taken a different route, I might not be so convinced he likely was a Schwenkfelder.

Ship List with Schwenkfelders 1735 & Andreas Brinker
What lead me away from the Mennonite theory and closer to the Schwenkfelder camp? To begin with, Schewenkfelders weren't required to be pacifists (a matter of conscience).
And, I noted that Jacob Brinker, who was 8 when he arrived, was on the Rev list as a patriot, and subsequent sons and grandsons all participated in a war.

Then for a time I was learning towards Jacob being a Moravian, since he lived not far from Bethlehem/Nazareth, communal home of Moravians. But Jacob Brinker moved too often and lived outside of the Moravian community. 

Also, once in Pennsylvania, Schwenkfelders are found marrying German-speaking Lutherans or other "Reformed" groups, and subsequently, participating in those churches.
Jacob's wife Susannah Hinkle (Henkel) may have been German. I know nothing about her parents. But, I do know that late in life Jacob and Susanah Brinker were attending a Lutheran/Reformed church.


Life of Jacob Brinker, Son of Andreas
Jacob was 8 when he and his family arrived in Philadelphia (from Switzerland, via Rotterdam) in 1735.
He married his wife, Susannah Hinkle (or Henkel/Henckel), possibly a German woman in 1755 in Lower Saucon Township. For a time he lived on a portion of his father’s farm in Lower Saucon Township.
But by 1759, Jacob and Susannah had moved away from Lower Saucon Twp in Northampton County to Upper Saucon Township  (which is now Lehigh County).

His father's will, dated Mar. 12, 1764, shows Jacob was in debt to Andreas for 10 pounds, which was forgiven at the time of his death (was this the balance on a ten year loan?).

A Jacob Brinker obtained a land warrant on November 20, 1766 for 150 acres in the northern part of Northampton County, now Hamilton Township, in Monroe County.

But then Jacob appears in a colonial assessment of 1772 in which he is assessed as a “miller” in Hamilton Twp.
Is this Really Jacob “Brinkers Mill?”

Brinkers Mill in Sciota, PA
A mill which Jacob Brinker was supposed to have owned was in Sciota, Hamillton Township, Northampton County (which is the current Monroe County). 
A write-up says: 

“Off of  Business Route 209 in Hamilton Township (Monroe County) is a mill centuries old.” 
Documents claim:

“Built by Jacob Brinker in 1730, this old mill was originally a log structure. By 1800, the mill had been replaced by the stone structure which stands today.”
Most researchers believe “my” Jacob Brinker was the original owner of this “Brinkers Mill” in Sciota, PA.
The timeline doesn’t work out for me, so I’m open to the idea that Jacob purchased the mill with the land, then it subsequently became known as Brinkers Mill, or else it was a different Jacob Brinker.
What's wrong with the timeline for my Jacob Brinker? A few things--not making it impossible or improbable but giving me a few questions:
~The historical records from Monroe County say that "Brinkers Mill" was built 1730.
~However, this Jacob Brinker arrived in Pennsylvania only 5 years after it was built (in 1735), and he was 8 years old.
~The records indicate this "Brinkers Mill" was sold as part of an estate in 1796 and
~my Jacob Brinker moved to Westmoreland County-which is nearly across the state-at some point. He died two years after 1796, in 1798.
I’ve concluded either this is the wrong Jacob Brinker, or he was a very ambitious fellow. Still, it's quite possible this was his mill.
The “Brinkers Mill” in this photo was bought by a John George Keller in 1796, then in 1800 sold to a Mr. Fenner who added the stone.
What I believe is to be certain: "my" Jacob and Susannah Brinker lived in Lower Saucon, and then of Hamilton Twp (Northampton/Monroe County) before they moved on.
Jacob and Susannah Brinker ended their days in Westmoreland County, out in the frontier area of Pennsylvania, and where their children (Abraham Brinker) and their descendants explored and settled.

Revolutionary War Life in Hamilton Township (Now Monroe County)
As mentioned, Jacob was not a pacifist. During the War for Independence, the patriots were asked to man the local militia and supply the traveling "army" (such as Washington`s) with extra food, wagons, animals, and arms as they could. 
Legend has it that Jacob Brinker supplied flour for the part of Washington's army, for which he was never paid.
Jacob served as private in Capt. Henry Servitz's company, Northampton County, Pennsylvania militia:
"Jacob Brinker, Rev War: 5th Co; 6th Batt. Northamption, Rank: Pvt. 2nd Class." 

Moving to Denmark Manor (Export, PA)
Jacob moved his family to the “frontier “to Franklin/Penn Township in Westmoreland County, east of Pittsburgh. (Quite dangerous if you read accounts of Indian raids).
He had land in the Manor of Denmark, Lot 16 and part of Lot 17 (p. 42-45 of the History of Penn Township by John W. Mochnick).
[This land was later willed to his third son Jacob.]
Jacob and Susannah were living on Lot 16 in 1798, when his will was written.

Sciota, PA to Denmark Manor, PA (nearly 300 miles)
Housing in Demark Manor
In 1798, all citizens of the new United States were taxed on the value of their house (usually a log cabin) barn and land, he number of windows and panes or "lights" in the house being counted--thus this is often referred to as the window tax.

This appears in the tax list in Franklin Township:
#65, "B"list, house under $100--Franklin township=
Jacob Brinker, house 20 x 50 ft. land of 336 acres, value $2,352.

Closest neighbor=Widow Butler`s land others on the list named Jacob Brinker as their neighbor;
# 66 Jacob Barlin/Berlin (2nd husband of his daugher Susannah Brinker);
# 64 Hugh Gray; Andrew Nicholson

Denmark Manor's Origin & Jacob's Role
Denmark Manor was founded on property that originally had been set aside to attract wealthy Danes to this part of Pennsylvania. But instead, German farmers ventured to western PA to make a livelihood.
Jacob Brinker and Conrad Knappenberger originally donated the land which eventually became Denmark Manor United Church of Christ.  The church, founded by German immigrants, started as a simple gathering in homes to read the Heidelberg Catechism and to pray.  Communion would not be celebrated until John William Weber (the first ordained minister in Western PA) crossed the Allegheny Mountains in the late 1700s century.
Denmark Manor Church proper was finally officially founded on June 4, 1811.  Denmark Manor, like all of the churches that served the Lutheran and Reformed congregations in early Western Pennsylvania, was a Union Church, which meant it was built in partnership by both congregations.
Lutheran and Reformed pastors preached to the same congregations in the same church, but on alternate Sundays. Each pastor was required to baptize children of both faiths.
Jacob Brinker's Will
Jacob Brinker's will is found in Franklin Township, dated October 30, 1798, and proved November 16, 1798.
It lists his wife Susannah.
His children:
Henry, George, Jacob and Abraham;
Daughters, Katrin wife of John Seley, and Susannah wife of Jacob Barleen;
Daughter Margaret's son John Larner;  grandchildren: Jacob, Margaret and Elizabeth Shaver;
Wife, son Jacob and son-in-law Jacob Barleen executors:
Witnesses Andrew Nicholson, Jacob Barlin and Hugh Torrance.
Jacob Brinker is buried near Denmark Manor, Export, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

 * * *
More on the Schwenkfelder Church
Schwenkfelder Church from Wikipedia:[Abbreviated by me, bolded additions by me]
"The Schwenkfelder Church is a small American Christian body rooted in the 16th century Protestant Reformation teachings of Caspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig (1489–1561). Though followers have held the teachings of Schwenkfeld since the 16th century, the Schwenkfelder Church did not come into existence until the 20th century, due in large part to Schwenkfeld's emphasis on inner spirituality over outward form. He also labored for a fellowship of all believers and one church.
By the middle of the 16th century, there were thousands of followers of his "Reformation by the Middle Way". His ideas appear to be a middle ground between the ways of the Reformation of Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli, and the Radical Reformation of the Anabaptists.
Originally calling themselves Confessors of the Glory of Christ, Schwenkfeld's followers later became known as Schwenkfelders.
They often suffered persecution like slavery, prison and fines at the hands of the government and state churches in Europe. Most of them lived in southern Germany and Lower Silesia.  As the persecution intensified around 1719–1725, they were given refuge in 1726 by Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf in Saxony. When the in 1733, Catholic Church  sought the new ruler to return the Schwenkfelders to to their former home (where they had been persecuted).
With their freedom in jeopardy, they looked to the New World (some in 1742 to Silesia).
A group came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1731, and several migrations continued until 1737. The largest group, 180 Schwenkfelders, arrived in 1734.
Unlike Mennonites and Amish, adult baptism and both infant baptism and consecration of infants is practiced depending on the church. Adult members are also received into church membership through transfer of memberships from other churches and denominations. Their ecclesiastical tradition is congregational with a strong ecumenical focus.
Unlike Mennonites, Quakers and Shakers, the Schwenkfelder churches recognize the right of the individual in decisions such as public service, armed combat, etc."

For me the big question has been settled: Jacob did not arrive in the colony as a Lutheran or Moravian, Quaker, or Mennonite, but likely a Schwenkfelder.


  1. I too am a a descendent of Jacob Brinker (Bruenger prior to leaving Switzerland) my email is

  2. Hi Chad,
    Do you have any further info on the Brinkers?
    you can email at sundowniest on the Gml acct. -Charity

  3. ANDREAS BRINKER is my 7th GGF


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