Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beeks line: Philip Servas, Immigrant 1714-1787

Here's a fascinating immigrant in the Beeks line.  I say "fascinating" because I believe he was a very courageous man.  First, he was an immigrant, which says "courage" to me.  Then, he was a Moravian, at a time when Moravians were not tolerated well.  Finally, when he acquired land, it was on the most distant part of the frontier in what is now Monroe County, Pa but was then part of Bucks County.  I just shake my head in wonder at the strength of these immigrants, and wonder how they did what they did.

Philip was born in 1712 in Coblenz, Zwiebrucken, Germany. I looked up Coblenz and I looked up Zwiebrucken and they appear to be in two different places so I'm a little confused by this information.  However, Coblenz is probably accurate, and Germany is accurate now although there was no "Germany" as we know it in 1712.  The area had yet to be united under one name.

Philip's parents were another Philip Servas and Ann, which is as much as we know of his birth and childhood.  We know that he married before he came to America because he and his wife, Maria Catharina Altomus, were on the ship "Samuel" when they arrived in Philadelphia on August 27, 1739.   It was while they were in Philadelphia that Philip became interested in the Moravian church, and this is also where he became a stocking weaver.  I've not found an indication that he was an indentured servant, but it still took 11 years for him to save up enough money to buy his land.

As mentioned earlier, the land he purchased, 100 acres, was in what is now Monroe County, Pa. It was a little more than 100 acres, on the Pochopoko Creek, "over the Blue Mountains."  By this time, the family included five children, and five more would be born to them during their marriage, all apparently christened or recorded in Philadelphia.  Philip seems to have acquired several additional tracts of land in the early 1750's, all in the same general area.

By 1755, things were tense between the natives and the pioneers.  They were so tense that a massacre occurred in December 1755, of Philip's neighbors, the Hoeths.  (Those of the family who weren't killed, were taken captive and there is record of the story of one of the young women who escaped after several years in Indian captivity.)  In response to this crisis, a fort was constructed on  Philip's property, where the families all went as needed during the French and Indian wars.  The Moravians later built a mission on the land which had belonged to the Hoeths.

The Servass's, meanwhile, fled their farm on the day after the massacre, and went to Nazareth, where many refugee settlers also found shelter.  They stayed in or near Nazareth for several years, with Philip making several trips there.  The family finally moved back to their land in 1763, at the close of the French and Indian War, and Philip stayed there the rest of his life.  He was taxed there in 1772, for 1 pound, 18 shillings.

Philip was too old to serve in the Revolutionary War, but surely he and his family knew of it and it's at least one of his sons, Frederick, served in the local militia.   Philip made his will in 1785 and died June 22 or 23 of the next year.  A Moravian braother, Brother Reichel, from Nazareth conducted his funeral service.   It appears that his wife stayed on the farm and survived him by about 2 years.

I'd sure like to talk to Philip, to learn what he was thinking as he stayed in Nazareth for those seven years.  Did he not go back sooner due to an abundance of caution, or because he didn't appreciate the Fort on his land, or was it his wife that was so reluctant to return home?  Maybe, after some years on the frontier they just enjoyed being with people again, or maybe it was a matter of saving enough money to start over again, with crops and farm animals.  I'd love to know the rest of the story.

Much of the information for this post came from items posted by Dale A. Berger, who has written a book about this family which I would love to see.  

The line of descent is:

Philip Servas (Serfass, other spellings)-Maria Catherina Altemos
Frederick Serfass-Sabina
George Philip Serfass-Eva
Mary Serfass-Andrew Wise
David Wise-Matilda Martin
Elizabeth Wise-John Beeks
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents