Philadelphia County, PA
From Historic Background and Annals of the Swiss and German Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania, p. 273.
Name: Christopher Witman
Arrival Year: 1739
Arrival Place: Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania
Source Publication Code: 6664.11
Primary Immigrant: Witman, Christopher
Annotation: Date and place of naturalization. Extracted from records in the Division of Archives and Manuscripts at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission located in the William Penn Memorial Museum and Archives Building in Harrisburg, PA. Colonial Records
Source Bibliography: [PENNSYLVANIA COLONY.] Abstracts of Pennsylvania Records of Naturalizations, 1695-1773, Found in Colonial Records (Minutes of Provincial Council), Volumes 1, 2, 3, 9, & 10, Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania, Volumes II, III, IV, VI, VII, & VIII, and Pennsylvania Archives, Series 1, Volumes 1, 3, & 4. York, PA: South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, 1983. 24p.
1753 - Land Warrant
Name Christopher Witman
Warrant Date 8 Oct 1753
Warrant Location Berks
1765 - Wrote Will
1767 - Land Warrant
From The Find A Grave Entry:
Regina was buried at the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery.
My first visit to the church was in February, 1998, to find the graves of Johann (John) and Regina Kurtz. After searching for a cemetery at the church, in vain, I finally met a local historian who explained that the church expanded in 1963 - right on top of the then church cemetery. It was a controversial expansion but the graves there, and I don't know any other than John and Regina, were moved a couple hundred yards away, two blocks, to the main cemetery.
When they went to disinter the remains they were astonished to find no remains other than discolored soil. Still, they moved the soil/remains along with the gravestones to the new site. Apparently by 1963 Regina did not have a stone but from "Life of Johann Nicolaus Kurtz, with notes on his brother, Johann Wilhelm Kurtz (1925)," p. 47. it is noted that on her stone was "Kinder 10." (Margaret A. Cruikshank, edited by Benjamin Kurtz Miller"
The church record reads as follows:
Regina Kurtz geboren im Jahr 1738 den 3 April in Falkner Schwam. Ihr Eltern waren Chr. Witman und dessen Ehefrau, Rosina Barbara, Getauft, Confirmit & 1759 den 1 sten Nov trat Sie in die Ehe mit Ev. J. Wilhelm Kurz. Kinder 10. Wittwen stand, gelebt 13 Jahr und 3 Tage. Krankheit Auszehrung. Gestorben den 30 sten May 1812, alt 74 J. 1 m. w 21 T. Berd. In Jonestown, June 1, 1812.
The Moravian Connection
Many years ago, my uncle, Eugene A. Kurtz (1923-2006), told me that the Kurtz family was descended from Moravian followers of Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415 because he spoke out against the Catholic Church years before Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. After Hus was martyred, many of his followers, including our Kurtz ancestors, were also burned at the stake and their survivors had their property confiscated and fled for their lives.
For over 40 years I have searched for information to verify this story, and finally I have found it. Regina Witman (1783-1812) who married Johann Wilhelm Kurtz (1732-1799) was the daughter of Christopher Witman, whose ancestors spelled their name variously as Widman, Weidman, and Weidemann. They are said to have fled from persecution in Zurich to the Palatine area of Germany, and thence to Pennsylvania. Johann Hus’ followers were ethnic Germans living in Moravia and Bohemia, and they rallied around Hus at the University of Prague. Some fled to Saxony, some to Zurich or Bern, some to Hungary, and some to Strasbourg. Zurich and Bern later became centers of intense persecution for Moravians, Baptists, Anabaptists and Mennonites, many of whom were the ancestors of the “Pennsylvania Dutch.” Members of these groups fled from Moravia to Zurich and Bern, and then back to Moravia, as the waves of persecution ebbed and flowed in the 1400's.
Much of this information is from Historic Background and Annals of the Swiss and German Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania by Henry Frank Eschleman, Parts of it are also referenced in Martyr’s Mirror by Thielemam J. Van Bracht, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe. There is specific information about Christopher Witman’s father, Mathias Martin Weidman, and his grandfather, Isaak Weideman, who fled from Zurich to Baden, in a book called Markham 1793-1900, by the Markham, Ontario Historical Society. However, one of the descendants doing research on FamilySearch.org disagrees with the name of Isaak Weideman and says this should be Peter Weideman. All of these sources are available on the internet. Since I have not yet been able to trace Christopher Witman’s ancestors with any certainty, I am hopeful that someone later will do this. These ancestors deserve to be named and remembered, to live on in our records, and to be blessed in our memory.
Laurie Kurtz Visher
German Martyrs and Refugees
Posted 14 Mar 2016 by Laurie Kurtz
German Martyrs and Refugees
Many of the “Pennsylvania Dutch” are descendants of the earliest Protestant martyrs and their survivors, who fled from persecution in Switzerland, especially the areas around Zurich and Bern. Early in the Protestant Reformation, dissenting religious factions broke from the established church because they refused to baptize infants or to pay money to priests to intercede for them and “secure” God’s forgiveness for their sins. These dissenters were variously known as Baptists, Anabaptists, Mennonites, and Moravians. Many fled from Switzerland to Moravia, and from Moravia to Switzerland, depending on where the persecution was most intense at the time. Dissenters were thrown into dungeons, were tortured, and if they refused to recant, were sentenced to death by beheading or were burned alive at the stake. Their property was confiscated by the state, their children were declared illegitimate and not able to inherit, and the survivors were forced to flee for their lives. The Palatine area of southwestern Germany provided a safe haven for these refugees, who later emigrated to Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-1999