In the woods along Ridley Creek, Elizabeth Jarvis and her son built a primitive cabin with help from neighbors.
This will be home for Elizabeth, her 12-year-old son Joseph and 4-year-old daughter Ruth.
Now they need to clear some land and get a garden before winter.
Quakers, newly arrived from England, are settling along the creeks and valleys north of the Delaware River. This is William Penn’s “Holy Experiment” – the new province of Pennsylvania.
The Early Immigrants
The River is taken up all along, by the Sweads, and Finns and some Dutch, before the English came. … and the Englishmen some of them, buy their plantations by the great river-side, and the rest get into creeks and small rivers that run into it, and some go into the Woods seven or eight Miles.
Here are gardens with all sorts of herbs, and some more than in England, also goose beries and roasetrees, but what other flowers I know not yet: turnips, parsnips, and cabbages. Here are peaches in abundance of three sorts. Here are apples, and pears, cheries both black and red, and plums and quinoes.
I have lately seen some salt, very good to salt meat with, brought by an Indian out of the woods.
Here are beavers, rackoons, woolves, bears, a sort of lyons, polecatts, mushratts, elds, mincks, squirills and other small creatures.Excerpts from Letter from Thomas Paschall to friend in chippenham England – 1683
Province of Pennsylvania
The original settlement of Pennsylvania was three counties – Chester, Philadelphia, and Bucks Counties. You can see the location on the map.
The overlay map in the image above is a map by Thomas Holmes, Penn’s surveyor general. The map shows the extent of settlement around 1685, three years after the counties were chartered. Several hundred land holdings have been surveyed and warranted. One of the land holders is Elizabeth Jarvis.
Charles Ashcom was the surveyor for Chester County, working under Thomas Holmes. In 1683, Charles Ashcom produced a map of the surveys he had done in Chester County.
A drauft of some part of the county of Chester in pensilvania wherein is showed how the people are setled and what distance other from other and what part of the land they dwell upon and who lives nearest to other Also what quantity of acres every one hathby Charles Ashcom surveiour for the county of Chester 1683
The map shows the settlers’ names. There is only one woman listed as landholder in 1683 – Rebecca Cantwell. A few months later, in February 1684, Elizabeth Jarvis would add a survey and land patent from the proprietor in her name.
Elizabeth Jarvis Land Survey
Obtaining land from the proprietor was a four step process:
- Make a warrant application for land
- If granted, get a survey
- Get a land patent
- Submit a return on the land patent
Here is Charles Ashcom’s survey for Elizabeth’s land, a 150 acre plot on Ridley Creek in Chester County. The survey was done February 4, 1683/4.
This precious document is among the earliest original documents I’ve found for the Jarvis family in America. It’s Charles Ashcom’s actual survey and notes. I really like it. It’s in the Pennsylvania State Archives.
It lays out 150 acres of land for Elizabeth Jarvis. In a later post, we’ll locate the land today.
“Surveyed for Elisabeth Jarves 150 acres of Land being on the south side of Ridly Creek beginning at a marked red oak standing at the mouth of a run of Ridly Creek and running up the run 80 pertch SW to a marked white oak and from thence SW b W 240 pertch to a black oak then NW b N 76 pertch to a marked white oak then NE b E 330 pertch to a walnut standing by Ridly Creek and from thence down the creek on several courses to the first mentioned red oak.”Charles Ashcom survey of land for Elizabeth Jervis – February 4, 1683/4
How Did This Happen?
How did Elizabeth become one of the very few women landholders among the first settlers of Pennsylvania?
Did her husband die just before the survey was done? Did her husband die on the voyage to Pennsylvania?
It’s not likely that she would come to Pennsylvania on her own with two children. And less likely that she could obtain land.
How did she and the children prevail?
Let’s try to find the answers.
The Problem Statement
Our ancestor Elizabeth Jarvis was likely from England, likely a Quaker, and likely immigrated to Pennsylvania around 1682. She had two children. Her husband likely died on the voyage to Pennsylvania or shortly after arrival.
There now. That’s looks easy enough. Where do we begin?
- Image of woods – Chester County Pennsylvania Genealogy – https://pennsylvaniagenealogy.org/chester-county-pennsylvania-genealogy
- Holmes map of Pennsylvania – Library of Congress – https://www.loc.gov/item/88695890/
- Charles Ashcom map of Chester County – Pennsylvania Historical Society
- Elizabeth Jarvis survey – 1684 – Pennsylvania Archives – Book A26 – Page 172
- Letter of Thomas Paschall, 1683 – An Abstract of a letter from Thomas Paskell of Pennsilvania to his Friend J. J. of Chippenham.
- Image of woman with children – WikipediaCommons