The online will abstracts for Lancaster County PA for 1729-1817 include an abstract for a testator John Furry of Hempfield Twp. who died in 1753 and appointed two executors Christian Furry and Abraham Myer. Also included is an abstract for a testator Christian Forrer of Conestoga Twp. who died in 1786. This Christian Forrer was my 4xgreat grandfather.
These abstracts raise the questions: 1. was the 1753 testator John Furry a relative of his executor Christian Furry and 2. was the 1753 executor Christian Furry the same person as the 1786 testator Christian Forrer.
The Records and Archives Services department of the Court of Common Pleas, in downtown Lancaster city at the “court annex” immediately south of the main court building, maintains bound “will books” which contain “copies” of wills from the 1700’s. These are not the actual original wills signed by the testators but are only full text “copies”, probably made by unknown court personnel.
The will book citation for John Furry is 1753, Book B, Vol. 2, page 9, which contains a full will copy which is a typewritten version, obviously of modern vintage. The signed date is 26 April 1753 and the proved date is 30 June 1753 so he died some time between those dates.
The significant portion for my purposes is the executor appointment statement as follows:
“my only and Sole Executors My Trusted and Beloved Brothers Christian Furry, Abraham Myer and Friend Henry Strikler”. So, John Furry and Christian Furry were in fact family brothers.
The 1753 John Furry will copy also mentions: “Wife Marry”(sp.?); “My Father Christian Myer”; “Son John Furry”; “son David or Daniel”; “son Jacob Furry”; “son Abraham Furry”; and “son Henry Furry”. Obviously AM & CM were in-laws.
The will book citation for Christian Forrer is 1786, Book Y, Vol.2, page152 which contains a full will copy which is handwritten in modern cursive, obviously of current vintage. The signed date is 2 February 1786 and the proved date is 23 February 1786 so he died sometime between those dates. It turns out that this modern cursive copy is an English translation of the original Christian Forrer will which was written in cursive German. There is no mention in the 1786 Christian Forrer will of any person in the John Furry family to link 1786 CF to 1753 JF.
The 1786 Christian Forrer will copy mentions: “my loving wife Maria”; “my son Jacob”; “my two Daughters Veronica Brenneman and Anne Graff”; “her husband Issac Brenneman”; “my son Christian”; “my son John’s land”; and “my Two Friends Henry Good and John Burkholder my executors”.
At the court annex, from a section separate from the will books, I located a manila folder for the 1786 German language will of Christian Forrer. The folder contained a business size envelope with badly deteriorated shreds of paper which the clerk assured me was the original will but did not want me to remove. The folder also had a Xerox style copy of the assembled shreds providing a readable will copy except for many, many holes. The signature of Christian Forrer was reasonably legible except for the “or” of Forrer which was missing due to a hole.
At the Lancaster County Historical Society, about four miles west of the court annex, I located a 1756 account by the executors of the 1753 John Furry will listing debts due by the deceased and signed by his three executors. The research librarian there indicated that Christian’s signature was a unique combination of German and English cursive letters. The signature surname clearly was not Furry but was Forrer. Comparing this 1756 executor account signature of Christian Forrer with the 1786 German language will signature of Christian Forrer shows enough similarity to convince me that the same person signed both documents 30 years apart.
Will abstracts at: www.usgwarchives.org/pa/lancaster/wills.htm
Records and Archives Services: www.co.lancaster.pa.us ; select Court of Common Pleas; select Court Related; select Records and Archives; select Archives.
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