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Paradise, PA
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1896 Ferree Descendants Reunion
November 18, 1896
Lancaster, PA
The following was found in the Ferree files at the Randolph County, NC, library. It is from a copy of the original printed history sent to Thad S. Ferree, Raleigh, NC, by Willard Frank Trogdon of North Wilkesboro, NC. Submitted by Tim Ferree, a tenth generation (John line) descendant. Below is as it written in the copy.

A reunion of the descendents of Madame Maria Ferree was held November 18, 1896, in the Stevens House parlors, Lancaster, PA., the object being to establish and organize a historical society for the purpose of tracing the complete ancestry and lineage of the family and preserving it, and also to erect monuments over the graves of the first huguenot colonist, whose remains are intered in an ancient cemetery near Paradise, Pa. The meeting was called to order by Mr. J.W. Shoaffer of Sterling, Ill., who, together with Mrs. Cora A. Lindsay of Pittsburgh, Pa. was the institutor of the monument. Rev. LaFayette Marks of Wilmington, Delaware, whose grand-father was a Pennsylvania pioneer in 1764 offered prayer. An organization was effected by the election of Mr. A. Exton Witner of this city as chairman, and Mr. Joseph H. Le Fevre of Hanover, Pa., as secretary. Mr. J. W. Shoaffer then read an interesting and valuable paper on the subject. "Our duty to early settlers", in which he gave full history of the family. He traced the Ferrees back to the time of the Crusades, it the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in the year 1685, Daniel Ferree, with his wife and children, fled from France to the Palatinate (a German state bordering France). Owing to Franch incursions in the Palatinate, and other oppressions of a religious nature. Madam Ferree (her husband having died in Germany), with her children and grand-children, also Isaac Le Fevre who had married her daughter Catherine emigrated from Steinveiler, Germany, to America, and arrived in New York December 31st., 1708.

From the number Huguenot Colony there has sprung a people numbering today many thousands of well-to-do, self reliant citizens, living in all sections of the United States.

In the afternoon Mrs. Lindsay read an interesting paper, entitled "facts and traditions", in which she gave the exact dates of birth, death, marriage, settlements, etc., of the Ferree and Le Fevre families. The last business transacted at the session was the adoption of a constitution and the election of officers.

Chairman Witner appointed the following committee to draft the constitutions Rev. LaFayette Marks, Wilmington, Delaware; I Galen LeFevre, Quarryville; Miss S.S. LeFevre, city; Mrs. Charles I. Landis, city, and Mr. Joseph H. LeFevre, Hanover. After a brief deliberation they returned the following reports.

That we form ourselves into a society for patriotic and historic purposes to be known as the "Ferree and LeFevre Memorial and Historical Association". Its object shall be to second the virtues and perpetuate the memory of our Huguenot ancestors and early descendents who settled the Pequea Valley, Lancaster County, PA., by repairing the grounds where their remains repose and erect suitable monuments to their memory, and to collect and preserve all historical matter respecting the Ferree and LeFevre genealogy.

That we shall elect a President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer and an executive Committee, consisting of five members. The duties of the officers shall be identical with those of other organizations. The Executive Committee shall have full charge of all business and interests of the Association and of the Committee of agents soliciting and preparing funds for the use and purpose of the Associations. The meeting of the Executive Committee may be held at any time by the direction of the President, or at the request of three members of said Committee.

The meetings of the Association will be held on the 14th day of July of this year in Lancaster, PA., at which time officers for the ensuing year will be elected.

Embodied in the above report was a list of names whom the Committee suggested should be elected as Officers. It was as follows: President, Milton ? Eshleman Newport, Pa; Vice-President, Joseph H. LeFevre, Hanover, Pa; Secretary, A Exton Witner, city; Treasurer, Christian LeFevre, Big Springs, Lancaster County, Pa.

The report was then considered by the Association. Mr. Witner stated that it was only a temporary Constitution and would be in vogue for one year, after which a permanent Constitution and By-Laws would be adopted.

The report was then unanimously adopted and the above officers were elected. The meeting then adjourned until evening.

The evening session was called to order at 7:40 o'clock by Chairman Witner. The attendance was smaller than in the afternoon, as a number of people had departed for their homes.

The chair announced the following members of the Executive Committee; Rev. LaFayette Marks; Frank B. Trout; Mrs. Charles I. Landis; M.B. Eshelman and Harry LeFevre.

Mr. Witner suggested that a committee of three should be appointed to be known as a Historical Committee to report at the next meeting of the society. The following were named; S.P. Ferree; Mrs. C. W. Lindsay and A. Exton Witner.

The Executive and Historical Committee were granted the power of filling any vacancies that might occur in their bodies.

A number of letters of regret were received from persons who were unable to be present. All expressed themselves as being heartily in favor of the movement. The Society then adjourned to meet at the call of the Executive Committee.

The Huguenot settlement in Pequea Valley in the Fall of 1712 was due to the influence of Madam Maria Ferree. She came with her children and grandchildren from Esopus (now Kinsington, New York, having arrived in New York in the Winter of 1708. Madam Maria Ferree took up 2,000 acres of land in Strasburg Province, in that portion known as Paradise township, Lancaster County, Pa. near the center of Madame Ferree's possessions there lies a piece ground not more than half an acre in extent which she set aside as a burial place for her and her descendents, and in which, in 1710, she is said to have been the first person interred. There are now nearly a hundred stones marked with the names of her descendents. In 1849 several persons were buried there, and after that no one until 1873 when a great-great grandson was buried. Since then the place has been abandoned. The stone wall surrounding the spot where your and my ancestors repose has fallen to decay and should be repaired. Many of the stones that mark their last resting place have fallen over while others lie buried under the growth of weeds and bramble that have accumulated for years.

What we want is to rebuild these walls, dig deep and destroy the root of the lilly that covers more than half the ground, straightening up the stones and have the whole grave yard nicely sodded. It would be advisable to have a small fund left stand in order that the interest might insure keeping the grounds in repair from year to year, otherwise the coming generations may be as greatly shocked as the present are to find so dilapidated a state of affairs. What we at least need at the present time is sufficient money to put this sacred spot of our ancestors in proper condition.

We, therefore appeal to you, as one of Madam Ferree's descendents, to contribute toward this laudable work. Give whatever you can, all contributions will be accepted and appreciated.

It is especially requested that you will send in your contributions on or about April 1st., 1897, so that we may be prepared to commence work on the cemetery in the early spring.

Please send all remittances to Mr. Frank B. Trout, Chairman, 166 North Queen Street, Lancaster, Pa., or to Mrs. Charles I. Landis, Secretary, 140 N. Lake Street, Lancaster, Pa.

The following is a paragraph from a paper entitled "Madame Mary Ferree and the Huguenots of Lancaster County" that was read before the Lancaster County Historical Society June 1, 1917, and September 7, 1917, by Judge C. I. Landis. This is as it is written in the Lancaster County Historical Society records.

A reunion of the Ferree family was held on November 18, 1896, in Lancaster. Contributions were then solicited for the maintenance and improvement of this graveyard, and $181.00 was subscribed. This money was placed in the hands of Mrs. Landis, who is a descendant of Madame Fiere, through her son, Philip Fiere, as treasurer. Since that time she has had the ground dug up in order to kill the accumulation of weeds, brambles and wild lilies which flourished there, though with only tolerable success. The lilies still wave triumphantly over the graves of her ancestors. Yearly she has had the weeds and grass cut down. She has paid out for these purposes, up to this date, the sum of $120.95. On the other hand, she has invested the subscriptions at interest, and this, with the proceeds of the genealogical trees of the family prepared and sold by her, which money has gone into the fund, has increased the amount on hand, so that the certificate of the People's Trust Company, which represents the fund, now is $320.64. The stone walls surrounding the graveyard are in a lamentable state of decay, and the gate has disappeared. She is, however, of the opinion that, if this money is used to repair them, there will be nothing left with which to care for the graves, and that it is best to keep it intact, until it grows larger. Perhaps with the passing of years she will have accumulated sufficient to accomplish both purposes, and the difficult question of repairing and maintaining will then be satisfactorily solved.