Matthias Sommer was born in the town of Freistett in the Baden region of Germany on April 6, 1715. He was the son of Matthias Sommer and Anna Barbara (Hubscher) Sommer. The town of Freistett appears to have been controlled by the County of Hanau in the early 1700s before being absorbed by the Margraviate of Baden.
 As researched by Mary Ann Schaefer, Matthias married twice in Freistett before coming to America; first to Maria Magdalena Sommer in 1736, and second to Barbara Gramp in 1741.
Matthias last appears in Freistett records in 1746. His exact date of emigration to Philadelphia has not yet been determined, but he married Christina Null(in) at St. Michael's and Zion Church in Philadelphia in October 1749. The witnesses included Jacob Schütt, Hans Jurg Null, Johann Jurg Kurtz, Philip Haller, and John Dorett. The couple were members of this church from 1750 to 1753, and their two eldest daughters were baptized there. They moved upriver to the Germantown area after 1759, and joined the Rev. Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg's new St. Peter's Lutheran Church at Barren Hill in Whitemarsh Township north of Germantown. They were members of that church until their 1766 departure,
and Matthias was one of its trustees. Matthias Sommer lived near St. Peter’s Church according to Mühlenberg. On Sep 24, 1765, he was naturalized along with the heads of two other families who would later co-settle Monckton Township, Heinrich Stieff and Michael Lutz, listing Roxborough as their place of residence, Philadelphia County. Roxborough is adjacent to Germantown and now the 21st Ward within Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Sommers family were among the original group of German families in Philadephia contracted by John Hughes of Benjamin Franklin & Co. to settle Monckton Township on the Petitcodiac River. He was the first settler to sign the contract of January 27, 1766 in Philadelphia, after John Hughes’ own signature. Their ship, the single-masted sloop “Lovey” under Captain Nathaniel Shiverick, landed at Hall's Creek in present-day Moncton, New Brunswick on June 3, 1766. Matthias received Lot 7 in the township but died in the early days of the settlement, most likely in 1767. His surviving family is mentioned in a March 1768 letter, and his wife later married widower Jacob Ricker, Jr. and brought her children by Matthias into that household. Their son Andrew remained on the original Moncton grant, while the rest of the family went to Hillsborough Township downriver.
This profile had Michael Somers and Marie Walther as Matthias' parents, but I don't believe there are any sources that support this. There appears to have been two different Matthias Somers who came to the Philadelphia area in the same time frame. The other married Maria Addlemann who I have removed as a spouse for this Matthias. Updated by Arthur Owen.
From Les Bowser 2001, pp. 40-41:
“He and his friend Valentin Miller, another signatory to the agreement [who signed right below Sommer], became trustees of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Barren Hill [north of Philadelphia, a few miles northwest of Germantown, on the upper border of Roxborough], the congregation having been created out of a schism in the Lutheran Church at Germantown. Valentin and Matthias, along with others of their church brethren at St. Peter’s, met on several occasions with Rev. Mühlenberg to discuss church business. In 1765, seven years after initially forming, the members of St. Peter’s congregation found themselves unable to repay the costs of constructing their church, and they wanted to send members to Europe to solicit donations from friends and relatives there. Mühlenberg described Valentin and Matthias as poor men with no property to their names: “Christopher Raben was the only one who possessed some property..Muller, Kolb and Sommer did not possess anything.””
"Professor Hempel thought Sommer’s wife Christina died and that Matthias re-married Maria Magdalena Aldmann in Philadelphia because there is a record of this marriage in Frankford, Pennsylvania on Aug 15, 1758. However, it seems there were two Matthias Sommers in Philadelphia causing this confusion. There was a “Matthias Sumer” who arrived from Rotterdam on the ship Anderson on Aug 25, 1751 (i.e. two years after the marriage in Philadelphia between our Matthias Sommer and Christina Nullin, 'Nullin' being the feminine form of 'Null' in old German). The original list of settlers from 1766 ( seen at http://www.ourgenealogy.ca/Canada/NewBrunswick/NewBrunswickMaps.html ) clearly lists Matthias’ wife as “Christiana” with their six children."
The family’s first winters on the lands of Monckton Township were grueling as documented by several sources. A letter from William Franklin to his father Benjamin Franklin on Oct 23, 1767 reports: "Mr. Jacob [sic - John] Hall (who keeps a Tavern at the Wheat sheaf near Frankford, and has been lately at Nova Scotia with Settlers for your Company of which he is likewise a Member) complains heavily of the narrow-spiritedness and Mismanagement of Mr. Hughes and the other Members. They empowered him it seems to conduct there a Body of Settlers, and to furnish them with such Necessaries as they should have Occasion for till they could subsist themselves; but tho’ he gave them Nothing but what was indispensably [necessary] they refus’d on his Return to acc[ept his] account. This put it out of his Power to return again to Nova Scotia, he having bought Provisions, &c. there on his own Credit. By this means Numbers who had engag’d to accompany Mr. Hall, on his Return, were deterr’d from going, which has greatly retarded the Settlement. And the poor People who were left there last Fall, and who, as they were not yet able to raise any Thing for themselves rely’d on a further Support to be brought by Mr. Hall were during the whole Winter in the greatest Distress imaginable, and must infallibly have starv’d had it not been for Lieut. Gov. Franklin and Capt. Houston an old Settler in that Province, taking Compassion on them. These Gentlemen sent them Supplies from Time to Time in Confidence that the Company were Gentlemen of too much Honour not to repay them." A later letter from surveyor Charles Baker to John Hughes on July 24, 1769 reports with the interesting spelling of the time: "They beg you would let them have some Working Cattle and Some Cloaths and Provisions untill they will be able to Raise it to themselves which they think will not be long. I think it is a Very Great Pitty that they should be lett Suffer so much as they have done ever since they went there as they are a Set of the Best Settlers in them Parts it has Surprised every one that knew them to see how they have lived since they went there Mostly on Herbs which they gathered in the Marsh in the Spring etc."113
Matthias had died by Mar 3, 1768 at which time his remaining family is mentioned in a letter from land agent Anthony Wayne to supplier Samuel Weathered.168 His wife and kids then merged families with the family of recent widower Jacob Ricker, Jr.
↑ Schaefer, citing Evangelische Kirche Freistett, Kirchenbuch, 1621-1962; citing FHL film 1189673, items 8-10, Taufen 1621-1721.
↑ German from Pennsylvania. Naturalized at Penboro, Philadelphia County on Sep 22, 1765. Naturalizations of Foreign Protestants in American and West Indian Colonies. Manchester: Huguenot Society of London,1921, Vol. 24, p. 105.
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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Mathias by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA.
However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line.
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