52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 2:
Family Finds Charter Oak

Niederlinxweiler Origins

I’ll take the opportunity to lay down some breadcrumbs this week and highlight the origins of my surname. My LaFara immigrant ancestor, Johannes Laferre, arrived on the ship Edinburgh at Philadelphia, from Rotterdam, on 14 September 1753. [1] He immigrated from Prussia where he had lived in a village named Niederlinxweiler, in the district of Sankt Wendel, now in Saarland, Germany. Further, Niederlinxweiler was in an independent duchy and bordered France. This fact may account for the surname seeming more French than German. I have previously written about the various spellings of my surname since my ancestors’ arrival, “Laferre to LaFara: Unusual Name.” [2]

John Johannes Laferre, 1734 – ca. 1805

I am not certain of the “correct” spelling of John’s surname, I find it being spelled Laffery, Lafarre and Lefferrey on various records. [3, 4, 5] John settled in Letterkenny Township of Cumberland, later Franklin, County, Pennsylvania. I am not certain of his date of death but it was after 1801 when I find him in church records. In addition, I believe his wife’s name was Anna Maria and they had at least two sons, George and John. The son John, 1775-1851, is my ancestor. Meanwhile, during my research I have discovered a man of a similar name and age, Johann Jakob Laferre 1734-1775, who married a woman named Anna Maria Volz, but who remained living in Prussia/Germany. I find this man, his wife, and children, in church records from Niederlinxweiler and therefore assume he is a relation to my Johannes/John who immigrated.


Breadcrumbs to Niederlinxweiler

More than 20 years ago, I came across a website niederlinxweiler.de that included a reference to Johannes Laferre as being a school master and was the first of their village to emigrate to America. Subsequently, the website no longer exists, but I am able to find it on the ‘Way Back Machine’. The site has a page listing members of the village who emigrated, including:

Laferré, son of Laferret, Johann Nikolaus in the “new country” before 1764, without a job, 29 years old, with wife and daughter 9 months old.

This may be my ancestor, it is hard to say since there is no first name provided. On another page the site provides a narrative about the emigration of people from the village during the 18th and 19th centuries, including:

The first emigrant from our village who is mentioned in documents was called Laferre. He moved to America around 1750.

However, I cannot find the site page that mentioned my ancestor being a school master, and I am sorry I did not copy the passage when I first read it.

What is the ‘Way Back Machine’? It’s an archive of the internet found at archive.org. You can find historical versions of many, if not most, websites that are, or were ever, on the internet.


To sum up, I am fairly certain my immigrant ancestors’ origins lie in Niederlinxweiler. But, I very much want to find records to support my certainty. My hope is this post will serve to attract others researching Niederlinxweiler, or Sankt Wendel, and that we can compare notes and sources. If any one reads this post and knows how to discover, and translate, German records that include my ancestor Johannes Laferre, PLEASE get in touch!


  1. Profile for Johannes John Laferre, ‘Osborn‘ family tree, Ancestry.com
  2. Blog post, Family Finds: Laferre to LaFara: Unusual Name
  3. Entry for John Laffery, Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863, [database on-line] Box 1026, microfilm, 14 rolls, Year: 1786, page 9. https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2702/33017_263380-00218/524122
  4. Entry for John Lafaree, U.S, Federal Census: Year: 1790; Census Place:  Fannet, Hamilton, Letterkenney, Montgomery, and Peters, Franklin, Pennsylvania; Series: M637; Roll: 9; Page: 321; Image: 176; Family History Library Film: 0568149 https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/5058/4440871_00176/313015
  5. Entry for Jno Leferrey, U.S, Federal Census: Year: 1800;  Census Place:  Frankford, Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Series: M32; Roll: 38; Page: 101; Image: 108; Family History Library Film: 363341 https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7590/4440906_00108/405400


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