Wicked no more: Redeeming Philip Daniel Gross

Michael A. O’Neill
Copyright 29 January 2017
First published 15 January 2017

Redmond, King, Washington, USA

If you find this article helpful to your own family history, please don’t copy the full text to ancestry.com or other genealogy site. I try to keep all articles current, and update them if/when I obtain new information. Instead, please link to the article and include–at the most–a copy of the article’s summary section, which is unlikely to change.

A 1996 family history entitled “A Singer-Wooster Family History”, erroneously maligned Philip Daniel Gross as a Cinderella-style wicked stepfather. The erroneous portrait of Gross was the result of an attempt to combine two different men into one: a George Slough who died between 1759 and 1769 unmarried and without children, and the George Slough who died in Pelham, Ontario around 1811.

All it takes to correct this narrative is a quick evaluation of primary source documents, combined with a basic understanding of probate law and the culture of both colonial Pennsylvania and ethnic Germans from Baden-Würrttemberg.

Rather than deliberate malice, I believe the error was due to careless reading of Hannah Roach’s genealogy of the Hertzell family published in Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine in 1966. The Slough portion of “A Singer Wooster Family History” is completely reliant on Roach’s genealogy.

Perhaps the desire for a relatable story to share at family gatherings also played a role—I know that my successes in genealogical research—such as finding a burial record in Pennsylvania that perfectly matched a baptismal record in Germany—must be mind-numbingly boring to my family. But a narrative with a Cinderella-style wicked step-parent? That’s something the entire family would listen to and pass on.

All genealogical research results in mistakes, but normally, it’s just connecting the wrong people together. In this case, however, connecting the wrong people resulted in unjustly maligning the memory of someone else’s ancestor. This analysis will prove that wicked-stepfather narrative wrong, and redeem the character of Philip Daniel Gross.

Summary of Singer’s five erroneous assertions

A Singer-Wooster family history contains five false statements that are worth examining in detail. Please note that these statements are listed in a different order than in the text.[1]

  1. Error: George Slough “was the only child of age in 1759 when his widowed mother was planning to remarry and had petitioned the Orphan’s Court for guardians for her younger children.”
    Fact: Margaret married in 1756, three years prior to the Orphan’s Court hearing.
  2. Error: “In 1769, a younger brother, Jacob Slough petitioned the court for division of their father’s estate. It is a matter of record that George did not participate in this event. The genealogy cited above states that George had ‘probably died’ since there was no further record.”
    Fact: The genealogy cited states clearly and unequivocally states that George died without issue before 1769, as do the Northampton County Orphan’s Court record upon which the original genealogy relies.
  3. Error: Gross “had assumed control of the Slough farm, and the younger Slough children were put out to guardians whereas his own children moved in with him and [Margaret].”
    Fact: Gross had no living children when he married Margaret.
    Fact: Guardianship has nothing to do with custody: Colonial Pennsylvania law required that all minor children be assigned a guardian to protect their financial share of an estate. If any children were “put out” (an event for which there is no evidence) it would have been to learn a trade, a normal occurrence which is explicitly addressed in colonial Pennsylvania’s probate law, and is within cultural norms for both ethnic English and Germans of the period.
    Fact: Gross probably did “assume control” of the farm, as part of his legal obligations as admin of Philip’s estate, and as part of his cultural role of “Hausvater.”
  4. Error: “[A]fter [Philip Gross’s] death… his will passed the Slough homestead on to his own children.”
    Fact: Jacob, Philip Slough’s second oldest son, took full possession of his father’s farm in 1769. Gross had no legal claim to Philip Slough’s land, and his 1770 will makes no mention of it. Gross couldn’t even claim Philip’s Slough’s land via his wife: a widow’s claim ended upon her death, or upon her eldest son making a cash payment equivalent to her living share of her husband’s estate.
    Fact: The genealogy upon which Singer based his flawed narrative notes that Jacob not only took over his father’s land, but purchased the tract immediately adjacent. Both tracts had originally been owned by Jacob’s maternal grandfather.
  5. Error: “These were troubled years for the family… and there was lasting antagonism between the Slough children and the new stepfather, even though the two families had been close before Philip Schlauch’s death.”
    Fact: Roach did suggest that relations may have been strained between Jacob Slough and Philip Gross, as evidenced by an action in Common Pleas. Roach had no details on the cause of the Common Pleas action, jumping to an inappropriate conclusion about the family’s emotional state. Even if Roach’s unsupported conclusion were correct, Singer amplified Roach’s “strained” to “lasting antagonism,” and extended the timing from a few years in the late 1760s, to the full fourteen years that Gross and Margarent Slough née Hertzel were married.

1: The marriage of Philip Gross and Margaretha Slough née Hertzel

“A Singer-Wooster Family History” suggests that Margaretha Slough had not yet remarried in 1759 when her eldest son, George, petitioned the Orphan’s Court for a division of the estate.

Roach’s genealogy states that three years earlier “on 29 June 1756, [Gross] was united in marriage with the widow Margaret (Hertzel) Schlauch by John Egidius Hecker, pastor of the Tohickon Reformed Church.”[2]

While this is merely a factual error, it helps establish a pattern of carelessness that is repeated throughout the narrative of the Slough family.

2: Faking George Slough’s death

“A Singer-Wooster Family History” quotes Roach as stating that George Slough “probably died” before a June 1769 Orphan’s Court hearing where Jacob Slough—now the eldest son—filed a routine petition for appraisal and division.

In fact, Roach states unequivocally that “During [the years 1759 to 1769] Margaret’s eldest son, George Schlauch, died unmarried and without issue.”

This is almost an exact quote of the actual court record, which states “George the eldest son (who died since without Iʄsue)”.[3] The relevant excerpt of the original document is below.

“A Singer-Wooster Family History” goes further, claiming that “George’s way of handling the family problem [an antagonistic relationship with his step-father] was simply to move out, since he was of age.”

“A Singer-Wooster Family History” doesn’t hypothesize why this information isn’t included in the Orphan’s Court record stating George died without issue.

The only way the court record could wrongly state that George had died is if some combination of his step-father, his mother and his brothers had perjured themselves in open court after swearing on the Bible. For a family that had hosted Lutheran services in their home,[4] this seems an extraordinary and implausible conspiracy. It also seems unlikely that all twelve of the “honest and lawful men” chosen from the Lower Saucon community by the court and tasked with appraising the Slough property would remain silent about George’s fate when they testified under oath at a subsequent hearing.

One descendant of George Slough, in defending the conclusion, suggested that the Court concluded George was dead because he was missing. It is possible the Court considered George to be a missing heir, but the record would have reflected a different conclusion.

If George had made the cash payments the court had ordered by the court in 1759, he would have been the legal owner of his father’s property. Upon disappearing, he would have effectively abandoned the property, and the colonial Government would have seized the estate for failure to pay taxes. Any Orphan’s Court proceeding would involve the family trying to convince a Court that George was in fact dead so that his siblings could inherit the estate.

If George had disappeared before he made the payments the Court had ordered in 1759, Pennsylvania law would give Jacob Slough the option to buy out his mother’s and his siblings’ interest in the estate, including George’s double share of the proceeds. With George missing, that double share would have been escheated to the State as lost property (George would have had twenty-one years after Philip’s death, until about 1776, to show up at the Orphan’s Court to claim his share).[5] This would have been recorded in Orphan’s Court records.

4: Gross took over the farm and cast out his step-children

The assertion that Gross “assumed control of the Slough farm”; that the younger Slough children were “put out” to guardians; and that his “own children moved in with him and Anna” is one of the two root causes for the misinterpretation of events (the other being a reference to a court action between Jacob Slough and Gross).

Taking over the Slough farm

The first statement—that Gross assumed control of Philip Slough’s real estate after marrying Margaret Slough née Hertzel in 1756—is probably factually accurate (though I have not found explicit evidence thereof). It is Singer’s insinuation that this was ominous and somehow out of the ordinary that is in error.

Roach does make this assertion, but she provides no evidence to support it.

There are two distinct periods in which to evaluate Gross’s legal rights, obligations and behavior in relation to Philip Slough’s farm:

  1. 1756-1759, when his step-children were below the age of 21.
  2. 1759 and after, when his step-children began to reach the age of majority, beginning with George.

1756-1759: the minority of Philip Slough’s children

When Philip Slough died, Pennsylvania law guaranteed that Margaret receive one-third part of the income from her deceased husband’s lands for the remainder of her life, with the land passing to Philip Slough’s living children after Margaret died.[6] She could, if she so desired, rent the land, provided the lease specified that the term should end shortly after her death.[7] She could not, however, sell the land.

The remaining two-thirds of Philip’s real estate belonged to Margaret’s children immediately upon Philip’s death. Any adult children could choose to dispose of their share of the estate as they saw fit. Minors such as Philip and Margaret’s children, however, could not do anything with their interest in the estate as they could not enter a legally binding contract to sell or rent that land. In the meantime, that land—plus the childrens’ share of Philip’s liquid and moveable assets—served only one purpose: to “maintain the children until [they] attain[ed] to the age of twenty-one years, or to put them out to be apprentices, and teach them to read and write.”[8]

When Philip Gross married Margaret Slough née Hertzel, he replaced her as the executor of Philip Slough’s estate, and he had two choices on how to manage the land:

  1. Move the family to his property, and rent out some or all of the Slough farm, maintaining the Slough children off of that income; or
  2. Move in to the Slough home and farm it himself to maintain the Slough children.

Whichever decision he made—and I think it reasonable to assume that Gross made the rational, compassionate choice to have one person (him) move in with the Slough family, rather than have nine people, including several toddlers, move to his farm. (This is assuming he even owned land in 1756—just twenty-eight years old, and eight years’ Margaret’s junior, he may not yet have saved enough money to purchase property.)

In other words, if Gross moved in to the Slough farm–as Roach and I both conclude was probable–he was just doing his job as the administrator of Philip Slough’s estate.

It’s important to note that there was a potential cultural conflict in play here: in some parts of southwest Germany, a surviving spouse was allowed lifetime use of all their deceased partner’s estate, (Scheer, Chapter 8) not just the 1/3rd guaranteed in Pennsylvania and much of England.

Additionally, Gross’s position as the new Hausvater gave him broad control and authority over his wife and step-children—literature of the described the role as that of a benevolent ruler.

“The most widely read of the Hausvater books in the the seventeenth century, Oeconomia ruralis et domestica, described the model husband as ‘god-fearing, wise, understanding, and experienced, who has God ever before his eyes, prays and works diligently, does harm neither to his neighbors nor to the members of his household, and is able to maintain the love, friendship, and good will of all around him.’” [9]

In other words, it’s possible that Gross might have attempted to exceed his legal authority over Philip’s farm for cultural reasons, but the same cultural mores that would have justified his actions should have constrained him from going as far as Singer alleges. Regardless, there is no documentary evidence that Gross did attempt to exceed his legal authority over the property.

1759: George Slough reaches his majority

Three years later, in 1759, the status of Philip Slough’s farm changed: Pennsylvania law gave the eldest son of someone who died intestate the option to acquire his father’s entire real property by buying out his mother’s and his siblings’ interest in the estate via cash payments.[10] George, the eldest who reached the age of majority in or before 1759, petitioned the court to do exactly that. Assuming he met the obligations the court required within one year, neither Philip Gross, nor Margaret, nor any of his siblings would have any further claim to the farm. If, after that point, they continued to live on the farm, it would have been George’s decision to make, not Gross’s.

Interestingly, in 1769, twenty-six-year-old Jacob[11] made the exact same petition to the Orphan’s Court in the disposition of Philip Slough’s estate—and not the estate of his deceased brother, George. If George had made the payments specified by the court within one year, Philip’s estate would have been settled. Instead, Jacob & his siblings would be heirs-at-law to George’s estate, and Jacob would be petitioning to buy out his siblings’ share of George’s real estate. Margaret would not have had a share, and there should have been no discussion of Philip Slough’s estate whatsoever.

This means that Philip’s estate was never settled, either because George never made those payments, or that he later reneged on his petition, clearing Jacob to make that same claim.[12] Why? Probably because George died shortly after the Orphan’s Court hearing 1759. If this were the case, Gross could very well have legally lived on the Slough family farm until 1764.

In March of 1770, Gross made out his will from Germantown (now a neighborhood of Philadelphia). Roach concludes that Gross had moved to Germantown, effectively showing he and Margaret had vacated the Slough farm in favor of Jacob’s claim. I believe Roach was in error: Gross’s will was probated in Northampton County, indicating that his property was located there, rather than in Philadelphia County. Instead, I speculate that the forty-two-year-old Gross became terminally ill while traveling to Germantown, and remained there rather than make the grueling journey home while ill.

Casting the Slough children out of their home

The statement that Philip and Margaret’s children were assigned guardians is factually accurate. The conclusion that this meant they were thrown out of their home lacks evidentiary support, and suggests a lack of basic knowledge in how a genealogist should use probate documents.

The error here is somewhat forgivable: equating guardianship with custody. The two are not equivalent legal concepts, neither in the 1750s nor today, but it’s rare for most modern Americans and Canadians to encounter guardianship issues during a typical lifetime, so the mistake is understandable.

A guardian’s role is to care for the financial and property interests of his/her ward(s). Today guardians are typically assigned to represent minors, an incapacitated senior, or a developmentally disabled adult. But the ward does not live with their guardian.

A custodian—such as an adoptive parent—would take a child into their home and raise them.

For example, if my sister and her spouse both passed away, I would become their children’s guardian, responsible for their financial assets until they came of age. However, my niece and nephew would not come to live with me in Redmond: instead, custody would go to my sister’s in-laws in Albuquerque.

In colonial Pennsylvania, the law required that Orphan’s Courts appoint men whose responsibility as guardian was to represent the interests of each child in court, and to manage the share of their deceased father’s property until they came of age.[13] Actual custody only became an issue when a widowed mother was unable to care for her orphaned children—and there is no indication in the court record that Margaret was unable to do so.

While it’s true that older, teenage children may have left their home to become apprentices to local craftsmen or servants for families in the community, these were both common practices at the time in England, the Colonies[14] and southwestern Germany.[15] In fact, Section IV of “An Act for Establishing Orphans’ Courts,” (passed 27 March 1712/13, and enacted into law 21 July 1719) gave Pennsylvania Orphans’ Courts the explicit power to place a minor orphan into an apprenticeship or other form of employment upon the request of a guardian.[16]

Gross’s children moved in

The final statement—that Gross’s children moved in to the Slough family—is another example of simply not reading Roach’s text, which states that by “1756, Philip Gross’s wife Leonora and infant son were both dead.” Roach even states that the two children named in Gross’s 1770 will—George Daniel and Mary Magdalena—were his children with Margaret.[17]

In other words, Gross had no living children when he married Margaret Slough, so he had no children who could “move in with him and Margaret.”

4: Gross bequeathed the Slough farm to his children in his will

“A Singer-Wooster Family History” alleges that Gross’s will explicitly granted the Slough farm to his children.

Roach says nothing of the sort: to the contrary, she notes that “two days after Gross’s will had been proved, Reinhardt Laubach sold land to Jacob Schlauch which would re-combine his maternal grandfather’s property, which had been split in two decades earlier—one half sold to an Abraham Faust in 1741, the other half to Philip Slough in 1747.[18]

To put it simply, Jacob clearly owned his father’s farm in 1770 after Gross’s death.

A review of Gross’s will does not explicitly note what land he owned, but he did not bequeath any of it to his children. Instead, he required that all his property be sold at public auction, with Margaret and his children sharing the proceeds.[19]

More broadly, the idea that Gross could have legally taken ownership of Philip Slough’s farm is legally and culturally preposterous.

Cultural controls

From a cultural perspective, ethnic Germans from Baden-Württemberg—such as the Sloughs and Hertzels, who came from neighboring villages in the Northern Kraichgau—had a long tradition of protecting assets going into a marriage:

“Because of the extreme importance that early modern Germans attached to inheritance and to the accounting for individual and marital assets, it was the custom in some southwest German territories or villages for a marriage contract to be negotiated. The marriage contract would typically detail the real and personal property each partner brought to the relationship and how these possessions would be allocated when the death of one partner ended the marriage. The drawing up of a marriage contract was most common when one or both of the couple had been married before, due to the tangled web of inheritance rights for his children, her children, and their children…

“Despite the potential protection of a specific marriage contract, marriage contracts were rare in many villages because the couple expected to abide by the existing intestate inheritance ordinances in force in their kingdom, dukedom or territory.”[20]

This part of Germany also assigned guardians to minors who stood to inherit a deceased parent’s estate—typically a brother of the deceased parent.[21]

Finally, in two of three of the prevailing inheritance rules and customs in Baden-Württemberg, a surviving spouse could not inherit their spouse’s real property. In the third, they could only inherit their spouse’s real property if the couple had no children.[22]

In Gross’s case, he would have a cultural understanding that the Slough farm was not his.

Legal controls

As to the law, Gross would have had to subvert not just the letter of the law—which clearly stated that Philip Slough’s property belonged to his children—but a variety of institutions and controls designed to support and enforce the letter of the law.

Administrator bonds

The administrator of an estate was required to submit a financial guarantee called a bond before he had the legal power to dispose of the estate (e.g. sell the deceased’s assets to pay debts). The amount of the bond was set by the Orphan’s Court in relation to the expected valuation of the estate. If the court decided the administrator had failed to administer the estate properly—whether through carelessness or outright embezzlement—that bond gave the court the power to seize and sell assets owned by the administrator sufficient to cover any loses he caused to the estate. But it wasn’t just the assets of the administrator: bonds required at least two people to give surety, meaning that a second person who was not the administrator was also financially liable for the misdeeds of the administrator.[23]

In other words, Gross needed at least one friend who trusted him enough to put his own financial well-being on the line. That friend would have been incented to keep tabs on how Gross was administering the estate.

Guardians were also required to put forth bonds as surety to protect their wards in case of embezzlement.

Auditing the administrator’s accounts

The court had the power and the obligation to review the administrator’s accounts in open court,[24] and did so on at least three separate occasions in settling Philip Slough’s estate.[25]

Orphan’s Court, it should be noted, wasn’t a casual affair with one judge: for example, on 21 March 1759, Philip and Margaret Gross testified in front of no less than eight justices.[26]

Guardians, likewise, were required to submit their accounts to the Orphan’s Court for review.

Preventing judicial malfeasance

If an officer or justice of the Orphan’s Court issued letters of administration without obtaining a bond first, that officer or justice could be held personally liable for any damages caused by the administrator.[27]

Generally speaking, justices under English Common Law could also be held personally liable for failing to exercise due diligence in a probate matter.[28]

Guardians protected the interests of minor heirs

Any minor standing to inherit needed to have a guardian assigned to represent them in court and manage their financial assets.

Regarding the latter, a minor was legally unable to enter into a binding contract.[29] If a minor heir needed to, for example, rent the farm they inherited to pay for their own schooling or upkeep, they needed an adult—a guardian—who could act as their representative.

For the former, the role of a guardian is to fight for the best interests of their ward during the settlement of the estate. For example, a guardian would have a responsibility to challenge an administrator that attempted to, say, steal their ward’s share of real property.

Typically, a guardian would be a blood relative of their ward, bringing a natural clan interest in protecting their extended family. In the case of the Slough children who were under the age of fourteen in 1759, the Orphan’s Court was responsible for assigning a guardian, and they chose the children’s maternal uncle. The daughters who were above fourteen chose Rudolph Oberle, probably a trusted family friend, while Jacob Slough (also above fourteen), chose his own step-father (an obvious flaw in Singer’s allegations of antagonism with Gross).[30]

A completely preposterous conspiracy

In summary, for Gross to embezzle the entire Slough family farm, he would have needed to:

  1. Bribe, entice or intimidate Rudolph Oberle and George Hertzel to not perform their duty as guardians, including lying under oath and doctoring their guardians’ accounts;
  2. Bribe, entice or intimidate his own wife to cheat her own children;
  3. Doctor his administrator’s account convincingly enough to fool eight or more justices who could be held personally liable for his maldistribution of the estate;
  4. Bribe, entice or deceive eight or more judges generally across more than a decade;
  5. Intimidate his minor step-children to not appeal to the justices when they appeared in open court;
  6. Intimidate his adult step-children to not file suit in Orphan’s, Common Pleas’ or some other Court;
  7. Bribe, entice, intimidate or deceive the twelve men appointed by the justices to value Philip Slough’s estate;
  8. Bribe, entice, intimidate or deceive the entire Lower Saucon community; and
  9. Bribe or entice his chosen administrators of his estate to complete his fraud after his death by, again, bribing, enticing, deceiving and/or intimidating the judges, officials and others into approving the sale of Philip Slough’s estate as if it were Gross’s.

If Philip Gross were that talented of a con-man, I find it hard to imagine that his estate was only valued at £250 6s at his death,[31] while Philip Slough’s personal and real estate was worth over £360.[32]

5: Antagonism between the Slough children and Gross

The allegation of a “lasting antagonism” between Gross and his step-children feels like a natural outgrowth of the four other erroneous statements.

But I believe it is rooted in Roach’s assumptions regarding a court action referenced in Philip Slough’s probate file:

“Philip Gross may have had some objection to his stepson’s plans [to re-unite the “partnership” lands originally owned by Georg Hertzel], for Jacob Schlauch brought an action against him in Common Pleas Court. Whatever the nature of the suit, the estate was the loser in the end.

“Relations must have been strained between the Grosses and the Schlauch children… for the Grosses had moved down to Germantown by the time this adjudication was reached.”[33]

The primary source probate file does note a £0 18s 2d fee related to “the Common Pleas Action between Jacob Slough and Philip Groʄs” but the cause of that action is not described. Roach obviously did not obtain those files, and my own attempts to hire someone to dig them up at the Prothonotary’s office in Easton, Pa. has so far been fruitless.

Gross and Jacob Slough may have had a strained relationship regarding Gross’s administration of Philip Slough’s farm, but there are other possibilities about the cause of the Common Pleas action that Roach does not consider.

First, in our adversarial judicial system, there must be a defendant, even if the defendant and plaintiff want the same outcome. For example, in an 1836 case, an Ohio woman named Julia Chew sued her own husband over the execution of her father’s estate. Her father’s will required that a certain tract of land jointly owned with others not be sold until 1838, even though the father had died before fully paying for his share. Julia, her sister and her half-brother wanted to sell the land to clear their father’s obligation (rather than come up with the cash themselves). The executor of the father’s estate—Julia’s husband—stated in court that he wanted the same outcome, but he was bound by law to obey the terms of his father-in-law’s will. The only solution was for a judge to modify the terms of the will, and to do that, Julia had to sue the representative of her father’s estate—her own husband. And the estate, having “lost” the action, was held responsible for paying the court fees.[34]

Second, Gross was Jacob Slough’s guardian, and carried a fiduciary responsibility to manage Jacob’s share of his father’s estate responsibly and carefully. If Jacob felt that his step-father had in some way mismanaged his duties as guardian, this could have been the cause of the action. It might have been a source of tensions between Gross and Jacob, but it is pure guesswork for Roach to suggest this extended to all of Philip Slough’s children—especially the youngest, who knew no father other than Gross.

Regardless, without the actual Common Pleas court record, all conclusions about that case—Roach’s, Singer’s and mine—are pure speculation. But even if Roach’s conclusion (and thus Singer’s) is correct, there is no evidence that strain extended to Jacob’s siblings.

Finally, there is no evidence that Gross moved to Germantown. While his March 1770 will was made out in Germantown (then in Philadelphia County, now a neighborhood of that city), Philadelphia County’s Orphan’s Court did not handle the case: Northampton’s did. Why? Probably because Gross, owned property in Northampton County.

The real oddity with Philip Slough’s settlement: Why did Jacob delay his petition?

Outside of the Common Pleas action between Jacob Slough and Philip Gross, the only real abnormality Jacob Slough’s delay of five years before petitioning for partition of his father’s estate.

Why did Jacob wait until he was twenty-six to make the petition? Who knows. It’s possible that Philip and Margaret Slough had two children named Jacob—the one named in baptismal records in 1743, who would have died young, and the one in Orphan’s Court records, and a second born in 1748 who would have turned twenty-one in 1769. Considering Philip had a brother named Jacob, and that this onomastic pattern of necronyms was common amongst ethnic Germans, it’s not far-fetched. It’s also possible that Jacob needed more time to save enough money to buy out his mother’s and his siblings’ share in the farm, and that the entire family agreed to delay action.


Philip Slough’s intestate settlement was routine and unremarkable (with three minor exceptions below). His wife’s new husband, Philip Gross, helped Margaret perform her duties as administratrix. When their eldest son died, the next eldest became heir-at-law, and took full possession of his father’s real property in 1769. There appeared to have been a legal dispute between one of the guardians (Gross) and his ward (Jacob Slough), but this would not have been unheard of.

There was no wicked step-father narrative. Gross did not expel his step-children from their home, nor did he steal their inheritance from them.

End notes

[1] Singer, Eugene. A. A Singer Family of Colonial Vermont and Canada. Self-Published. 1996. Lahaina, Hawaii. p. 84. (accessed via https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE71047&from=fhd on 29 January 2016).

[2] Roach, Hannah Benner. “Hans Georg Hertzel, Pioneer of Northampton County and His Family.” Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families from the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine. Volume 1: Arnold-Hertzel. Genealogical Publishing Company. Baltimore. 1982. (Originally published in Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Vol. XXIV:3, 1966, 151-184.), p. 871.

[3] “Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-28838-39473-97?cc=1999196&wc=9PMT-VZ9:268497601,268532001 : accessed 1 February 2015), Northampton > Orphans’ Court records 1752-1795 vol A-E >.

[4] Roach, op. cit. p. 867.

[5] “And if the lawful heir to any such lands or tenements, shall at any time within twenty-one years after the intestate’s decease, appear, he may traverse the inquisition or office found for the land, and recover the same.” Chapter CXXV: An Act for the Better Settling of Intestates’ Estates.” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania. Passed 12 January 1706, repealed 19 April 1794.

[6] Why? The state did not want a widow to become a financial burden on the community if her children threw her out. This guaranteed the widow an income until she died.

[7] “Provided also, That nothing in this act contained shall give any widow or a right or claim to any part of such lands or tenements for her… thirds as shall yield yearly rent or profits whereof her husband died seized, for any longer time than her natural life. And the said profitable lands or tenements, and the unimproved land next adjacent thereto, shall not be sold but for payment of the intestate’s debts.”

[8] “Chapter CXCVII: An Act for Establishing Orphan’s Courts.” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania. Passed 27 March 1713.

[9] Scheer, Teva J. Our Daily Bread: German Village Life, 1500-1850. Adventis Press. North Saanich, Canada. 2010. Chapter 9: Family Roles and Relationships.

[10] Find the law

[11] Why did Jacob wait until he was twenty-six to make the petition? Who knows. It’s possible that Philip and Margaret Slough had two children named Jacob—the one named in baptismal records in 1743, who would have died young, and the one in Orphan’s Court records, and a second born in 1748 who would have turned twenty-one in 1769. Considering Philip had a brother named Jacob, and that this onomastic pattern of necronyms was common amongst ethnic Germans, it’s not far-fetched. It’s also possible that Jacob needed more time to save enough money to buy out his mother’s and his siblings’ share in the farm, and that the entire family agreed to delay action.

[12] “That where any estate in lands, tenements and hereditaments cannot be divided amongst all the children of the intestate without prejudice to or spoiling of the whole… the court may… order the whole to the eldest son if he shall accept it, or any other of the sons successively upon the eldest son’s refusal, he or they or some friend for him or them paying to the other children their equal and proportionable parts of the true value of such lands, tenements or hereditaments as upon a just appraisement thereof.” Chapter CCCLXXIV: An Act for Amending the Laws Relating to the Partition and Distribution of Intestates’ Estates.” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania. Passed 4 February 1749. Contained in Wevodau, Edward N. (comp). Abstracts of Lancaster County, Pa., Orphans Court Records, 1742-1767. Closson Press. Apollo, Pa. 2001.

[13] Wevodau, Edward N. (comp). Abstracts of Lancaster County, Pa., Orphans Court Records, 1742-1767. Closson Press. Apollo, Pa. 2001. p. viii.

[14] See, e.g. Fisher, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. Oxford University Press. New York. 1989. pp 101. Also Baird, Robert W. “Orphans, Adoption & Inheritance.” Bob’s Genealogy Filing Cabinet. Accessed via <http://www.genfiles.com/articles/adoption/> on 1 Jan 2017.

[15] Scheer, op. cit.

[16] “Chapter CXCVII: An Act for Establishing Orphan’s Courts.” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania. Passed 27 March 1713. (Wevodau, op. cit. p. xiv.)

[17] Roach, op. cit. p. 873

[18] Roach, op. cit. pp. 849-50, 873

[19] 19 Mar 1770 Will of Philip Gross. Will Books, 1752-1907; With Register’s Index, 1752-1966; Author: Northampton County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Northampton, Pennsylvania.

[20] Scheer, op. cit. Chapter 8: Marriage and Inheritance.

[21] Scheer, op. cit. Chapter 8: Marriage and Inheritance.

[22] Scheer, op. cit. Chapter 8: Marriage and Inheritance.

[23] Wedovau, op. cit. p. iv.

See also, Chapter CXXV: An Act for the Better Settling of Intestates’ Estates.” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania. Passed 12 January 1706, repealed 19 April 1794. See also Baird, Robert W. “Wills, Intestates, & Probate.” Bob’s Genealogy Filing Cabinet. Accessed via <http://www.genfiles.com/articles/wills-intestates-probate/> on 1 Jan 2017

[24] Chapter CXXV: An Act for the Better Settling of Intestates’ Estates.” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania. Passed 12 January 1706, repealed 19 April 1794. Contained in Wevodau, op. cit.

[25] “Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-28838-39473-97?cc=1999196&wc=9PMT-VZ9:268497601,268532001 : accessed 1 February 2015), Northampton > Orphans’ Court records 1752-1795 vol A-E >.

[26] 21 March 1759 Orphans Court hearing. “Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-28838-39473-97?cc=1999196&wc=9PMT-VZ9:268497601,268532001 : accessed 1 February 2015), Northampton Orphans’ Court records 1752-1795 vol A-E.

[27] “Chapter CXCVII: An Act for Establishing Orphan’s Courts.” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania. Passed 27 March 1713.

[28] Baird, “Wills, Intestates, & Probate”, op. cit.

[29] Baird, Robert W. “Legal Age.” Bob’s Genealogy Filing Cabinet. Accessed via <http://www.genfiles.com/articles/legal-age/> on 1 Jan 2017.

[30] “Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-28838-39473-97?cc=1999196&wc=9PMT-VZ9:268497601,268532001 : accessed 1 February 2015), Northampton > Orphans’ Court records 1752-1795 vol A-E >

[31] Roach, op. cit. p. 873.

[32] “Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-28838-39473-97?cc=1999196&wc=9PMT-VZ9:268497601,268532001 : accessed 1 February 2015), Northampton > Orphans’ Court records 1752-1795 vol A-E >

[33] Roach, op. cit. p. 873.

[34] Ohio, Highland County, Court of Common Pleas records, Court record, vol. 4 1829-1836, pp 676-678. FHL 1303083.

[35] Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775. University of Pennsylvania Press. Philadelphia. 1996. pp. 60-65.