Bob's Studebaker Resource Website

The Studebaker Presence in Pennsylvania

(Information provided by
Don Jones
Keystone Chapter)

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At the site of the original Studebaker Homestead and Blacksmith Shop just outside of New Chester, Adams County, PA.
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Original Studebaker homes, in and around East Berlin, New Chester, PA Area.

The Studebaker Family Early History, A Walk Through Time

It is late August 1736 as the HMS Harle starts its journey up the Delaware River on the way to the Port of Philadelphia. On board are 156 men, 65 women and 167 children who left in late spring from Rotterdam, Holland. These passengers, known collectively as “Palatines” were immigrants coming to start a new life in America. Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the passengers as they started up the Delaware? I’m sure it was one of awe, as they looked at the pristine landscape, the abundant wildlife and the smooth tame water. Excitement was building as they were finally safe and off the tumultuous rolling sea.

Among the passengers on board the Harle were two brothers and their wives along with an unmarried cousin. These passengers had paid their fare in full and did not come as “Indentured Servants” as many did in those days. This group was Peter, age 38 and his wife Anna Margaret; his brother Clemens, age 36, and wife Anna Catherine, and their unmarried cousin Henrich, age 28. These families started their journey to the colony of Pennsylvania from Solingen, Germany. Their trade, Blacksmithing. Their name Stoten becker .

The Harle arrived in port on August 31, 1736. All passengers disembarked on September 1, 1736 and it is said that they were immediately marched to the public square of Philadelphia where they were required to take a “Loyalty Oath” to the King of England and the Penn government, a proprietorship, in order to remain in the colony of Pennsylvania. The Studebakers did just that as their signatures appear on the handwritten document of the 151 signers from the Harle. It is interesting to note the signatures that appear on this handwritten document are as “Clemens Stotten Becker", "Peder Stoten becker" and "Hendrich Stoten becker". Yes, these are the same individuals we know today as the Studebakers.

Imagine being a new arrival in a new place, and what it might have been like. You knew no one and spoke no English other than possibly a few words learned from others on board the Harle. Fortunately a large German community existed in Philadelphia, known today and surely then as “Germantown”. One can only assume that the Studebakers made their way to this part of the city and began to settle down in their new home.

Not much is known about the family’s early days in this country but knowing the industrious nature of the brothers and cousin Heinrich it can be assumed they were making plans to move west and begin farming and blacksmithing for a living. Pennsylvania State Archive records show that both Peter and Clemens were granted Penn Land Grants of 200 acres each in what is known today as Berks County, Pennsylvania in December of 1736, but these grants were never executed as required. Why? No one really knows the answer that question.

By late 1737 Peter had moved his family west to the area near what is Hagerstown, MD today, while Heinrich had gone further west to Peters Township along Welsh Run in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, as it is known today. Clemens apparently stayed in or near Germantown (Philadelphia) until he reappears with a Land Grant of approximately 200 acres in Paradise Township, York County, Pennsylvania. He purchased this grant in January of 1749, settled down and began to farm and practice his blacksmithing trade. The purported original dwelling still stands and has been incorporated into the existing dwelling located there today.

Clemens is the great grandfather of Henry, Clement, John, Peter and Jacob. These men are the renowned Studebaker brothers who are known for the manufacture of horse drawn carriages, buggies and wagons along with electric and gasoline powered cars and trucks. Clement, as he was known in this country, was appointed overseer of the poor in Paradise Township in 1750 so it was apparent he was well known and liked and apparently a man of means. Clement passed away in 1762 and in his will, he left his farm to David who was his eldest son and brother to Clement Jr. father of John C, the father of the famous sons.

Not much is known of Clement Jr. except that he was twice married, had ten children, and was a carpenter and joiner. It is also known that he purchased 312 acres of land in the Pinetown area of Tyrone Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania where he lived until his death in 1842. Clement also built wagons at his homestead and taught his sons the blacksmithing trade. Clement’s third son was John C., born in 1799 and named for an earlier son who died at birth.

John Clement married Rebecca Mohler who was the daughter of a “Householder Family” of the Ephrata Cloister in 1820 and began to raise a family that included 13 children of which 10 lived to reach adulthood. In 1830 he purchased 100 acres of land adjoining his father’s ground in Tyrone Township. On this ground he constructed a brick dwelling and his blacksmith and wagon shop. Many knew John throughout the community as a benevolent and trusting person who extended credit to all. This benevolence eventually led to his own inability to pay his own debts. He remained here until 1835, when, lured by rumors of great opportunities and better times from family members, he sold the majority of his possessions, paid his debts and moved his family to Ashland, OH in three wagons constructed at this homestead. One was a large wagon of the Conestoga type and the other two were smaller freight wagon types.

Come to the 44th Annual SDC International Meet in Lancaster, PA and walk in the early Studebaker family’s footsteps. Follow today’s US Route 30 to York, PA and follow the East Berlin Road to the Paradise Township homestead of Clemens. Travel into East Berlin, PA and visit the 1790 house of David, Clement Junior's oldest brother and a place where he resided for a number of years. Travel about 5 miles further west into Tyrone Township, Adams County, PA and visit the John C. Studebaker homestead and the Homestead Monument. The former homestead house was destroyed by fire in 1904 while the blacksmith shop remained until 1965 when the ravages of time led to its demise.

On Monday, September 15, 2008 as part of the International Meet, the monument on the homestead will be re-dedicated in a moving ceremony. Come be a part.

See you in the future as I write about our past.

Don Jones, Co-PR Director,
44th International Meet
in collaboration with
Sandra A. Studebaker, SFNA

The Land Grant