George Hains Lower Heidelberg Land Purchases

Posted in: 1731-1740
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Sep 23, 2008 - 10:39:15 AM

On November 25, 1735, George Hains purchased his first land in Pennsylvania. It was 300 acres purchased from William Allen. Within the next few days, George purchased two more tracts of 222 and 400 acres each. The seller of the next two tracts was the Proprietors. He now had title to 922 acres in the Tulpehocken region, some of the best farmland in the colony. The land was located in what is now Lower Heidelberg Township, near the current small town of Wernersville.

The first 300 acres was purchased from William Allen, the son of William Allen, the elder, a wealthy merchant from Philadelphia who had close ties to William Penn. William Allen, the younger, ran the family business after his father’s death and became a prominent politician and Chief Justice of the colony’s Supreme Court. On August 29, 1728, William Allen, the younger, purchased 10,000 acres from William Penn III, grandson of William Penn. This land now includes a portion of Heidelberg Township. The 300 acres purchased by George Hains surely includes a portion of these 10,000 acres.

 

The Proprietors were named as seller of the second two tracts. At the time, John, Thomas and Richard Penn, Sr., sons of William Penn were the Proprietors of the colony. William Penn had died in 1718.

 

The purchase of this large acreage all within a few days by an immigrant was unusual, and its timing made it even more unusual. It was now twelve years after George Hains, along with other small group of Palatines emigrated from the Schoharie Valley, near the Mohawk River in New York. These families were promised the right to purchase these Tulpehocken lands if they would settle here. Colonizing the Pennsylvania wilderness was the life long desire of William Penn. The Palatines were promised this land by none other than Sir William Keith, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant-governor during his trip to Albany New York in 1722.

 

Why did it take twelve years to purchase the land that George Hains had settled in 1723? A look back into Pennsylvania’s earlier history gives us the clues. The major cause was a long standing quarrel whether William Penn had actually purchased the Tulpehocken land from the Indians.

 

The dispute was finally resolved when an Indian treaty was finally signed September 1, 1732 releasing the lands which included the Tulpehocken region to the Proprietors. It was only then that the Palatines could legally purchase the land from the Penn’s. Nine years had past since the first settlers had arrived on the land. But there were still another three years before titled could be granted to George Hain’s first land purchase.

 

The process between agreeing to purchases land and conveying a Patent took considerable time. First, an application is made for a warrant survey the land. The warrant is issued A survey is prepared describing the land boundaries. This survey may take months. Before the surveyor began his work, he would bundle several surveys in a local area to same him travel time. His survey area was very large. Then there was the weather, especially during winter months which caused delays. With the survey in hand, a lawyer prepared the patent. When drafted, he would get word that the documents were ready for signing. Finally, the parties could sign the patent, transferring title to the new owner.

 

Conrad Weiser’s land purchase is an example of the delay between agreeing to buy and granting a Patent. His farm was located just six miles west from the Hains farm in the Tulpehocken. It was Conrad Weiser who was the Indian interpreter during for negotiating the 1732 treaty to settle of the disputed land. Weiser interpreted for Shickellamy, who represented the Six Nations, in the negotiation with the Governor and Governing Council in Philadelphia. After the treaty was signed in September, Conrad Weiser was back in Philadelphia nine months later. In June 1733 he got the General Surveyor to write a letter on his behalf to John Taylor, surveyor in Lancaster Co. to survey the land on which he lived. Two warrants were issued to purchase two 100 acre tracts of land in 1734 and 1735. The whole 200 acre tract was surveyed in May 1736. The patent was finally signed in Philadelphia, October 6, 1736.

 

By the time of George’s death in 1746, a period of just eleven years, he had accumulated 1739 acres. Here is a list of land George purchased in what is now Lower Heidelberg: Township, surrounding the current town of Wernersville. The land was located along both sides of the present Benjamin Franklin highway (Hwy 422), leading east to Reading and West to Womelsdorf.

 

Purchase Date

Seller

Acres

11/25/1735

William Allen

300

11/27/1735

Proprietors

222

11/--/1735

Proprietors

400

11/19/1741

Proprietors

198

11/--/1741

Proprietors

227

9/2/1742

Proprietors

292

Peter Hains

George Hains

100

Total

 

1739

 

George made payments toward other land purchases prior to his death in 1746. The acreage owned by George Hains and payment receipts made toward future land purchases was found his estate inventory documents. The location of the land and acreage in lost to history. The location of the land and acreage in lost to history. These receipts show the following payments:

 

Payment Date

Payment

11/5/1743

5₤

12/23/1743

5₤-

3/30/1743

16₤-19s-6d

6/22/1743

15₤

5/17/1744

26₤-8s-6d

 

William Penn’s land records show the average sales price for country land was ten pounds per 100 acres. Assuming this average price, George Hains would have paid approximately 174 ₤ for his land.

Jeri Haynes, June 17, 2008