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Jacob Vatter (Feather)
Palatine Immigrant - 1759

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Biographical Sketch
Note: Jacob Vatter (Feather) was the maternal grandfather of Hulda Sarah (Beaty) Taylor, Kansas Pioneer, through her mother Sarah (Feather) Beaty.

Jacob Vatter - Immigrant ancestor of descendants of Sarah (Feather) Beaty, reprinted with permission from the copyright holder, from: "Genealogy of the Jacob and Mary (Connoly) Feather family of Preston County, West Virginia", Feather Genealogic Co., 1980. Written by Edna Davis Rogers. Italicized portions are editorial comments by this webmaster. E-Mail for Book Information

'Jacob Vatter (Changed to Fether then Feather), our immigrant ancestor, came to America with his family in 1775 at the age of sixteen. He was born near Frankenthal, a town along the Rhine River in the state of Rheinland Pfalz (Rhineland Palatinate), one of the eleven states of West Germany. Rhineland Palatinate lies west of Baden and Hessen, north of France, east of Luxembourg and Belgium and south of Nordrhein - Westfallen. The topography appears very similar to the Appalachian region of the central and western Pennsylvania. It is no wonder that those Palatines, emigrating from this region, felt at home in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Jacob's parents were Joseph Christian and Maria (-) Vatter. The spelling of the name Vatter was changed to Vetter, Fedder, Fetter, Fether, and to Feather(s) because of the various English-speaking people's way of spelling it in the communities where the Feather families lived. (Note: Jacob and his parents were using the spelling "Fether" on his marriage certificate in 1791.)

Considering the most prevalent migration patterns during the early part of the eighteenth century, it is very probable that our Vatters came from Bern Canton, Switzerland, settled in the Rhine Valley near Frankenthal for twenty to fifty years, and then, to avoid further war, or to enjoy economic improvement and obtain additional religious freedom, emigrated to America from there.

The family sailed from Frankenthal down the Rhine River to Rotterdam, Netherlands, and by way of Falmouth, England, they were imported on the King of Prussia to Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania. Jacob and Christian took the Oath of Allegiance on October 9, 1775.

Within a year after Jacob arrived in America, he was helping the colonies fight for their independence. He belonged to a volunteer company in Philadelphia and served under Captain Samuel Morris in Washington's command. Later in the war, one of his officers was Luke Morris, a merchant in Philadelphia, serving under the command of Thomas Mifflin, the quartermaster general of the Continental Army.

Jacob's military records show that he was with Washington's army when it crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776. Early the next morning, Washington's troops struck a finishing blow to the garrison of three regiments of hired German Hessians stationed at Trenton, New Jersey, under the command of Lord Charles Cornwallis. On January 2, 1777, Jacob was at the Battle of Princeton, New Jersey, where the British had another defeat. Together, these battles constituted the first turning point in the war and temporarily cleared the British and Hessians out of New Jersey.

The records show that Jacob was also present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781. This was the siege that ended the war. (He would have been 22 by this time.)

At the close of the war, many of the discharged soldiers had to find new homes and new employment. Perhaps, the hunting grounds of the valley of Cheat invited them to settle in the territory now known as Preston County (then Virginia, now West Virginia). Among them were some of the "first" families of Preston County found in this work.

Surnames of soldiers in the Revolution who later settled in Preston County are Beatty, Chidester, Fawcett, Johnson, Kelly, Martin, Matthew, McCollum, McMillen, Messenger, Orr, Royse, and Wolfe. No doubt Jacob Feather knew many of these pioneers while they were in the service together, and, it might not be too far-fetched to believe that he, too, planned to settle in Preston County as soon as circumstances permitted it.

When Jacob was discharged, he went to Milford Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, to join his family. The names of the places of abode, or the area in Pennsylvania where most of the Feather immigrants settled changed so often that it is difficult to follow them.

Jacob lived in Milford Township, Bedford County, when he was married (on May 24, 1791, when he was 32 to Mary Connoly) and when his first two children were born. The next three children were born in Milford Township in Somerset County, and the next child was born in Turkeyfoot Township in Somerset County. The names of the place changed; the family did not move. The surnames of Friend, Longacre, Saylor, Feather, Engle, and Watson are among those who settled Somerset County.

In 1804 (when Jacob was 45) Jacob and his family moved to Preston County, which later was to be referred to as "God's Little America". (And He and Mary had five more children here, making a total of eleven children.)"

Jacob Vatter - Our Immigrant Ancestor of descendants of Sarah (Feather) Beaty, from Genealogy of the Jacob and Mary (Connoly) Feather family of Preston County, West Virginia, Feather Genealogic Co., 1980, Written by Edna Davis Rogers. - E-Mail for Book Information

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More on Jacob Feather:
Jacob Vatter (Feather) was the maternal grandfather of Hulda Sarah (Beaty) Taylor, Kansas Pioneer, through her mother Sarah (Feather) Beaty.

Jacob (Vatter) Feather died on May 22, 1832 in Preston County, WVA, at the age of 72 and Mary (Connoly) Feather died October 22, 1860, in Preston County, WVA, at the age of 91. Both are buried in the Lutheran Cemetery, near Lenox, WVA. Hulda Sarah Beaty was born in 1844, so would not have known her grandfather. She was 16 when her grandmother died. Jacob and his father and mother signed his marriage certificate with the spelling "Fether" in 1791, so the spelling changes from Vatter to Feather may have been gradual.

The above reference indicates Jacob moved to Preston County, WVA in 1804. I have a genealogical record that shows the five children born after that date were born in Monongalia County, VA. Preston County was "splintered" off of Monongolia County. Also note that WVA was not created from Virginia territory until the Civil War.

The daughters of Jacob and Mary (Vatter) Feather married men with surnames of Lewis, Beaty, Shaffer.

The Jacob Feather genealogy in 1980 lists nearly 6,000 descendants at that time, and there was a branch missing (ours!). When throwing in the missing branch and twenty years of additional time, Jacob's descendant count is probably approaching the 10,000 mark. There is still a heavy concentration of Jacob's descendants in the Preston County area.

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Related Links
Palatine Heritage explains who the Palatines were and where they came from.

See the story of the Beaty and Feather families in West Virginia.

Return to the Beaty Index at this site.

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