For Valentine’s Day, I am writing about my 7th great-grandfather, Johann Valentine (Veltan) Griesemer. He was born in Lampertheim, Hesse on January 4, 1699 and died in Hereford Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania on May 31, 1773. He was the son of Johann Valentine Griesemer (1658-1735) and Anna Kiesser Griesemer (1690-1712). He married Anna Margarete Kern (1690-1721) in 1712 and Anna Maria Zugk in 1723, having four children with his first wife and six with his second wife. I am descended from two of his children: Casper (1715-1794) on my mother’s side and Anna Maria Gerdtraut (Gertrude) (1728-1802) on my father’s side.
Johann Valentine Griesemer received permission from Frantz Ludwig, Archbishop of Worms Count Palatinate, etc. on April 28, 1730 to travel to Pennsylvania. The passport was for “John Valentine Griesheimer, wife, and four children” (actually, five): Johann Wilhelm, Casper, Anna Margaret, Jacob, and Anna Maria Gertraut. The form was signed by John Adam von Hohamus, Governor of the Grand Duchy of Worms. “Valtein Griesemer” and his family traveled to Rotterdam, arrived in Dover on June 19, 1730, and arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Thistle of Glasgow on August 29, 1730. He took the oath of allegiance to King George II upon his arrival and first settled in the Goshenhoppen Valley in present-day Montgomery County before finally establishing a permanent homestead in Hereford Township in present-day Berks County.
Valentine Griesemer became a prominent landowner in Hereford Township, at one point owning nearly 600 acres. He became a naturalized citizen in April 1743, traveling to Philadelphia to go before the Supreme Court to swear his allegiance to King George II. He built a log house that lasted over 140 years before a descendant tore it down. In 1759, the Penn family granted him a patent to 149 acres; officially, the patent states they did “grant release & confirm unto the said Valentine Griesemer by the name of Felton Kreesmer alias Cresmore.” Griesemer would pay 1/2 penny quitrent sterling per acre annually to the proprietors for the property.
A year later, Valentine Griesemer and his wife Anna Maria sold the land to their youngest son Leonard for 400 pounds. Leonard took over the payments to the proprietors, which would end in 1776 after the United States declared independence from England and the Penn family ceased being proprietors of Pennsylvania. There is no indication that Valentine and Anna Maria would be permitted to remain on the land; perhaps they went couch surfing among their other eight children until they died.
Valentine’s second oldest son, Casper, became one of the founders of Oley Reformed Church, and Casper’s son (subject of the Witness to History: Jacob Griesemer Crossing the Delaware post from December 2020) served in a Berks County regiment during the American Revolution and accompanied General George Washington when the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River prior to the Battle of Trenton. His third child and first daughter with Anna Maria Zugk, Anna Maria Gerdtraut (Gertrude), married Jacob Gery, a native of Alsace, France and a Redemptioner who arrived in Philadelphia in 1739 and had been hired by Valentine Griesemer to work on the farm. Gery is an ancestor of my 2nd great-grandmother of Sariah Hassler Wheeler (paternal ancestor). Casper is an ancestor of Harriet Bland Griesemer Spohn, my 2nd great-grandmother (maternal ancestor). My father died before I got to tell him that one of my mother’s ancestors (Valentine) owned one of my father’s ancestors (Jacob Gery) and that he married the daughter of his master.
Johann Valentine Griesemer died on May 31, 1773 and was buried at New Goshenhoppen Reformed (now UCC) Church cemetery alongside his wife. He was survived by nine children.