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Johann Georg VON LOHR


1. Johann Georg VON LOHR

Johann Georg von Löhr--American Immigrant, 1698

All American Van Leers are descendants of Johann Georg von Löhr (anglicized as "John George Van Leer"--Generation 6) who immigrated to the Penn Colony in 1698.

Prior to immigrating, Johann Georg visited London where he purchased 5000 acres of land near what is now Woodbury, New Jersey--also administrated as a Quaker colony at that time by William Penn. (Ref. 5 "Vanleer Papers," Part 3, Page 6)William Penn's company sought investors in both Pennsylvania and New York in early 1682. This would make our ancestor one of William Penn's first investors. 750 investors purchased the standard package, which included a tract of 5,000 acres somewhere in Pennsylvania or New Jersey (un-surveyed, un-cleared, virgin land), a building lot in the planned city, and a dividend of 80 acres in the "liberty lands" (free of Indians and protected by government) north and west of the city limits.

Fellow-investors were chiefly merchants, shopkeepers, and skilled craftsmen from London, Bristol, and Dublin--most of them Quakers. While only about half of the "first purchasers" came to America, Johann Georg decided to make the move. He was accompanied on his move to the New York by his wife, Mary, and their 11-year-old son, Bernardhus.

Johann Georg brought with him a combination birth-certificate-letter-of recommendation given by the Council of Wilhelm Moritz, Count of Isenburg and Budingen in 1698. The letter is written on lambskin and affixed with the von Lähr coat of arms. (Ref. 5 "Vanleer Papers" - Part 2). In 1937, this document was in the possession of his great-great-great grandson, Philip M. Van Leer of Pennsylvania. His descent from Johann Georg von Lähr was:

Bernardhus/Bernard/John Franklin I/John Franklin II.

Johann Georg anglized his name to "John George Van Leer" (and sometimes as "von Leer"). The official "von Löhr" was still used on legal documents such as his will and marriage certificate to his second wife--Rebecca Fauls, who he married at Christ's Church in Philadelphia on Jan. 15, 1738. He was either a doctor or merchant of drugs in Philadelphia. His will--sealed with the von Lähr coat-of-arms--is on file at the Chester County Court House. (Ref. 6 John George Van Leer Will, 1740).

An addendum was added to the will in July 1748 to clarify the reason for leaving so little to his son Bernardhus to protect against having the inheritance contested after his death:

"...the reason for so small a legacy to my son is because I formerly provided well for him according to my ability..."

John George left five shillings to his son Bernardhus, a parcel of land in Chester to his grandson George and the rest of his estate to his wife, Rebecca. An inventory of the estate included:

Cash and bonds 235 pounds
Saddle and bridle 13
Cow 3
Furnishings, China 121

Total 372 pounds

John George's will indicated that the Van Leers were moderately prosperous professional men. There was, however, no great wealth.

The Van Leer family moved to the "liberty land" in Marple Township in the early 1700's. It was at this point that the Van Leers began a long family relationship with the Waynes.

Anthony Wayne I. (father of Isaac and grandfather of Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne and Hannah Wayne) owned property in nearby Paoli. Numerous legal documents exist that include both Wayne and Van Leer as witnesses. The families united in the third generation when Samuel Vanleer married Hannah Wayne.