1665 - 1824
The Kratz's originate from the Rhenish Palatinate in Germany. There are three possible origins for this name's meaning. The first is a shortened version of the medieval Pankratz which was a personal name given in honor of St Pancras. The second is a variation of Kraatz which is a location in Brandenburg. The last is an occupational name for someone who carded wool or a similar occupation.
Our Kratz lineage begins with John Philip Kratz who was born in Germany on Oct 8, 1665. His wife's name is unknown but it was likely Anna since all of their children were given first names "John" for the boys and "Anna" for the girls. The seven children were likely distinguished by their middle names instead, although the middle names of two are missing:
Documents for John Valentine confirm that he went by his middle name of "Valentine" so we will refer to him as such.
Patriarch John Philip died in the Rhenish Palatinate of Germany in 1746 at the age of 81. His wife had died in 1710.
In 1707, Valentine was born on the east side of the Rhine in the Rhenish Palatinate. When he was 20 years old, he sailed on the ship "Friendship of Bristol" on June 20, 1727 to the British Colonies of North America. The ship left from Rotterdam in the Netherlands but it's unclear whether Valentine resided there before moving on or whether he merely travelled there to reach the transportation to the colonies. In any case, he arrived at his final destination in Pennsylvania on October 16th.
As a Mennonite, he was likely seeking religious freedom and there was already a Mennonite foundation in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania ready to welcome him. William Penn, the founder of Philadelphia and surrounding areas, was a strong advocate for religious tolerance and freedom for all. Although many of the minority religions arrived in the American colonies to escape religious persecution in Europe, most of them were as equally intolerant of other religions as those they were escaping from. William Penn encouraged his settlers to be tolerant of all religions, a concept far ahead of his time. Although many still struggled with this idea, the fact that Pennsylvania is home to many Anabaptists and other religions such as Penn's own Quakers, is thanks to his vision of acceptance.
Valentine settled in Salford Township, Pennsylvania and purchased two pieces of land, one from a man named Gerhart Clemens and another from the Commissioners of Property. He paid £25, 6s and 8d for 163 acres and 71 perches of land from the commissioners in 1734. The land he purchased from Gerhart Clemens in 1736 contained 53 acres and paid £1 for each acre. Sometime later, he purchased another 68 acres. In 1741, Salford Township was divided into Upper and Lower Salford, splitting his land into two different townships. By 1776, he had a total of 300 acres, 150 in Lower Salford and another 150 in Upper Salford.
Valentine had naturalized in April of 1743, making him a British Citizen until 1776 when the colonies declared independence from Britain. Although his religion (and age) prevented him from fighting in the war, it is said that he supported the patriot cause, which is unusual since the Mennonite organization opposed the Revolution not only due to their non-violent beliefs but also because they felt loyalty to the king, to whom they had promised loyalty upon their naturalization (as opposed to the many colonists who were born British or in the colonies and therefore made no such conscious and deliberate declaration of loyalty). In fact, in the Moyer Family Chapter you will read about Rev. Christian Funk who was excommunicated for his support of the Revolutionary War. Valentine probably escaped such harsh punishment because he was not an influential leader of their religion like Funk was.
He wound up marrying the daughter of Gerhart Clemens, Ann, and they were among some of the original members of the Salford Mennonite Church, built in 1738. They had nine children together:
The original church was taken down and rebuilt for more space in 1770 and again in 1850. The adjoining graveyard is still home to the remains of John Valentine and his wife, Ann, who died in 1780 and 1793 respectively. A monument has been erected in memory of their family, presumably because the original headstones are in ruin.
Their son Abraham was born in 1741. In 1767, he purchased the Williams' Homestead of 188 acres in New Britian Township, where he settled with his wife, Barbara Moyer, who he married on September 11, 1768. They had ten children together:
The family worshipped at the Old Mennonite Church at Deep Run where Abraham and his wife were buried when they died in 1817 and 1824 respectively.
Their daughter, Barbara Kratz, was born on Oct 18, 1777, during the Revolutionary War. She married John Hendricks Godshalk in 1789. For information on Barbara's married life, see the Godshall Family Chapter.
© Robin Bauer 2010-2013
Kratz Photos and Documents
Kratz Memorial Stone at the Lower Salford Mennonite Cemetery.
Lower Salford Mennonite Church and Cemetery.
Old Mennonite Meeting House at Deep Run where Abraham Kratz and his wife were buried, image extracted from “A Brief History of John Valentine Kratz”.