Who owned the ship “Two Brothers”?


The Pennsylvania Gazette carried the following advertisement in issue #1036 and issue #1038 dated October 20 and November 3, 1748:



          The Ship Two Brothers,

          THOMAS ARNOT, Master,

Will certainly sail by the sixteenth of next Month.  For

   Freight or Passage, apply to Benjamin and Samuel

   Shoemaker, or said Master on board.”


Benjamin Shoemaker’s name often appears in the opening paragraph introducing ship lists for the “Two Brothers” when it arrived in Philadelphia between 1747 and 1753. He was, therefore, frequently present at the Philadelphia court house when the immigrating German speaking immigrants who had just arrived on the “Two Brothers” took their oaths of allegiance to the King of England and the government of Pennsylvania.


Benjamin Shoemaker was born in Germantown on August 3, 1704.  His father was Isaac Schumacher and his mother was Sarah Hendricks Schumacher.  They were both born in Germany and they were early German immigrants to Pennsylvania.  Several published sources include them in lists of early settlers of Germantown in the mid 1680’s.  Benjamin’s parents apparently came to Germantown from the Rhineland just a couple of years after Daniel Pastorius arrived in 1683 with a group of 13 Mennonite and Quaker families from Krefeld, Germany.  Therefore, Benjamin Shoemaker was a second generation German-American.  


Benjamin was a merchant in Philadelphia.  In March 1729 he advertised, for sale “in High Street opposite the Presbyterian Meeting-House good Linseed Oyl by the barrel or smaller quantity”.  In October 1732 he qualified as a “Common Councilman”.  In 1742 he rose to the position of Alderman in Philadelphia.  He served the city in 1743-1744 as Mayor.  At the end of his term as mayor, according to an address made to the King, Philadelphia had grown to “contain 1500 houses, and 13,000 inhabitants, and more than 300 vessels arrived at the city’s wharves” annually.


Mayors of Philadelphia served one year terms in those early years and Benjamin served two more times, 1752-1753 and 1760-1761.  Beginning in 1751 Benjamin became the treasurer of Philadelphia, a position he held until his death in June, 1767.  His first wife was Sarah Coates who was the daughter of Thomas Coates of Philadelphia but who had been born in England.  They married in 1724.  She died in 1738.  His second wife was Elizabeth Morris daughter of Anthony Morris of Philadelphia who he married in 1739.  He had 4 children by his first wife and 7 children by his second wife according to genealogies I have seen of his family.


His first child was named Samuel Shoemaker who was born in 1725.  Samuel seems to have been a business partner or apprentice to his father, Benjamin in 1748 based on the advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette quoted above.  Samuel later followed in his father’s footsteps when he became mayor of Philadelphia for two consecutive annual terms from 1769-1771.


The ship “Two Brothers” was not the only ship bringing German speaking immigrants to Philadelphia from Europe with the association of Benjamin and Samuel Shoemaker.  An examination of advertisements appearing in the Pennsylvania Gazette in the late 1740’s and early 1750’s for several other ships also directed interested parties to inquire of the Shoemakers about freight or passage on the following ships which had recently docked in Philadelphia from Rotterdam via English ports with German immigrants:


          Ship Edinburgh, James Russel, Master

          Ship Ann, John Spurrier, Master

          Ship Phenix, John Mason, Master


It can not be asserted with certainty that Benjamin and Samuel Shoemaker owned any or all of these ships outright.  Perhaps they were just “travel agents” or shipping expeditors due to the fact that they were well known merchants in Philadelphia with a retail store people could conveniently find.  On the other hand, maybe they were owners alone, or together with the captain of each ship, and/or with other partners who were less visible to the public. 


Another aspect to consider about the involvement of Benjamin and Samuel Shoemakers association with at least these four ships who brought German immigrants from the Rhineland to Philadelphia is the fact that they were 2nd and 3rd generation German-Americans.  Hopefully this suggests a sympathetic and benevolent motivation toward their fellow Germanic countrymen traveling to America to begin a new life on their ships.


The contemporary accounts of the Journey to America from Rotterdam contain a wide range of viewpoints regarding the treatment received from the captains and crews of various ships.  Some captains and crews where outright thieves, taking every occasion to abscond with the limited possessions of the German passengers on their ships.  Often these wicked seamen would also skimp on food, water and other provisions for their passengers to increase their own profits. 


However, other contemporary accounts praised the captains and crews on certain ships as being courageous, benevolent and fair in their treatment of the Germanic passengers.  It is hoped that the owners of the ships who were German and descendents of recent immigrants themselves like the Shoemakers would be more insistent on kind treatment of the passengers on their ships.




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