The Shoemakers in America

The Shoemaker family has a rich history, made complex by two separate family lines. Both lines came from the Palatinate region of Germany, but settled in Pennsylvania at different times. Jacob Shoemaker of Mainz came to Germantown in Philadelphia, PA in 1683, while Simon Shoemaker of Zweibrücken came to Reading, PA about 70 years later.[1]

The Shoemaker Family of Shoemakersville, PA incorrectly traces the Reading line to Jacob Shoemaker, who set out for America in 1683 with Francis Daniel Pastorius and settled Germantown.[2] Sources from the Germantown Historical Society show that Jacob Shoemaker was not the grandfather of Henry (1731-1797) and Charles (1735-1820) Shoemaker, the brothers who founded Shoemakersville. No records exist listing Jacob Shoemaker II and his wife Elizabeth Roberts as being the parents of two boys named Henry and Charles.

The incorrect lineage is also reiterated in a small black notebook, which otherwise contains accurate genealogical information. The notebook is identified on the last page by the name “Mary Lightfoot, Williamsport,” the likely author of the volume.

Story of Jacob Shoemaker who came to America in 1683

A Shoemaker genealogy in the black notebook

However, Benjamin H. Shoemaker’s “Annals of the Shoemaker Family of Germantown” sets the record straight:

It is unfortunate that the Reading Shoemakers are unrelated, as they have had many prominent descendants. Henry and Charles Shoemaker who founded Shoemakersville above Reading were children of Simon Shoemaker of Zweibrücken, Germany, as show by the records of Trinity Lutheran Church, Reading. This may be the Simon Shoemaker, listed by Rupp [in his 30,000 Immigrants] as reaching Pennsylvania in 1752.[3].

Further research at the historical and genealogical societies of Berks County may yield additional information about the Shoemakers of Reading.


[1] Benjamin H. Shoemaker, 3rd, “Annals of the Shoemaker Family of Germantown,” Germantown Crier 3 (1952?): 20.

[2] The Shoemaker Family of Shoemakersville, PA (Reading: L. H. Mohr, 1909), 4-6. Accessed November 15, 2012, http://openlibrary.org/books/OL22893368M/The_Shoemaker_family_of_Shoemakersville_Pennsylvania_1682-1909.

[3] Benjamin H. Shoemaker, 3rd, “Annals of the Shoemaker Family of Germantown,” Germantown Crier 3 (1952?): 20.

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