A Parallel Case


28. Januar 2023


Before we turn to the findings concerning the Weinsheim brothers on the American side of the Atlantic, we have to take a parallel case into view which is far more clear. It is valuable for us because it will provide us support for our argumentation in the main case.

The two cases have in common that the migrants come from a Cörper family. Both were subjects of the Electoral Palatinate and were Evangelical-Reformed. Both travelled to America approximately at the same time.

A difference between them is that the Weinsheim brothers belong to the family group “Booser Stamm” whereas the man dealt with here is a member of the “Mölsheimer Stamm”. But this is without significance for the current discussion.


In 1700, Abraham Cörper was born in the village of Pfeddersheim which is now a part of the city of Worms in Rhineland-Palatinate. The birth entry says “Cörper”. In 1724, he married Anna Margaretha Seltzer (Sältzer) who was born in the same village in 1704.

They had the following children: Johann Valentin, born in 1725; Ernestina Margretha, born in 1728, who died at the age of six months; Julius, born in 1730; Nicolaus, born in 1737.

“Valentin” is not a frequent name and “Julius” is a rather rare name in that period, which also applies to “Abraham”. I mention this because it helps us to establish identities.

The couple’s oldest son, Johann Valentin, was confirmed in Pfeddersheim on Easter 1738. After this, the family vanishes from the records.

About five months later, on September 5, 1738 three ship lists were written in Philadelphia. They are published in “Pennsylvania German Pioneers” by Strassburger.

One of the passengers was Abraham Körper, 38 years old. In the facsimiles of the lists 52B and 52C in volume 2 the name “Abraham Körper” is written very clearly. It is obvious that the man had much practice in handwriting.

The whole family had left their home village and gone to America. Abraham had another son, Paul, who must have been born in 1739 or 1740, certainly already in America. In his will Paul mentions his brothers Valentine and Julius.

All these data fit so well together that it cannot be coincidence. In this parallel case we can be quite sure who the immigrant was and were he and his family came from.

Abraham’s family and their descendants settled in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania. They adopted the name “Kerper”. Later a small branch settling in Virginia even changed it to “Carper”.

This case is valuable for us because there cannot be any doubt concerning the surname. In Pfeddersheim it was “Cörper”, sometimes also written “Körper”. As long as these people spoke German their name “Körper” was preserved as can be shown by grave stones with an inscription in German. But as soon as the descendants adopted English as their mother tongue, they changed it to “Kerper”.


The main information from this parallel case is

1) the handwritten name in the lists 52B and 52C

2) the name change from “Cörper” via “Körper” to “Kerper” and even to “Carper

I will use these findings to dispel or minimize the many doubts connected with the emigration story of the Weinsheim brothers.