The First Kolb Brothers to America


            In early 1707, three Kolb brothers of Wolfsheim, Hess, Germany, set out on an adventure that most of us can barely imagine.  They were the sons of Mennonite parents, Dielman Kolb and Agnes Schumacher, and they were seeking a home where they would be free to worship and to make a living as they best saw fit.  They had been preceded by their grandfather, Peter Schumacher in 1685, but he died in 1707, the year of their arrival.  Peter Schumacher had been a Mennonite, but he had converted to the Quaker faith.

            Martin (1680 – 1761) was the oldest of the three and probably brought a wife. Johannes, the next in line, born in 1683, was single and would seem to have been the most adventurous of the brothers.  Jacob (1685-1739) would marry three years later in the new country. 

           Two older brothers stayed behind in Germany.  Heinrich would follow two years later with his wife and three children, and Peter, a bishop in the Mennonite Church, died in Mannheim, Germany in 1727.  A fifth and younger brother Dielman Jr. would follow in 1717.  

            Johannes, Jacob and Martin arrived in Germantown in 1707 but did not join the other Mennonites at the Germantown Church until 1708.  A 1708 listing of members shows Johannes and Jacob as single men and Martin as married.  By 1710 the three brothers would own adjoining farms in Skippack and be part of the new Skippack Mennonite Church there.

            Johannes was the only one of the five brothers who did not stay in Montgomery County.  He sold most of his land in Skippack in 1712 and moved to Coventry Township, Chester County.  He paid taxes there until 1735 and then moved to South Carolina by 1737 and sold the last of his land in Skippack by 1739.  He joined the Welsh Neck Baptists on the Pee Dee River in South Carolina.  There are many Kolbs in the South who are descendants of Johannes.

            Jacob was married on May 2, 1710, to Sarah Van Sintern in the Germantown Mennonite Church by Dirck Keyser.  Sarah was the daughter of Isaac and Neeltje (Classen) Van Sintern, who had been married in Amsterdam.  Isaac Van Sintern was a deacon of the church and had brought his four daughters to Germantown from Hamburg, Germany, in 1700.  Jacob and Sarah Kolb moved to Skippack in 1710 and Jacob was chosen as a deacon of the new church at Skippack.  Nine children are known, among them “Strong Isaac Kolb,” a bishop of the Mennonite Church and ancestor of many of the local Kolbs.  Jacob was killed in an accident with a cider press beam, on October 4, 1739 and is buried at the Skippack Mennonite Church.

            Martin was ordained a minister of the Germantown Mennonite Church in 1708, but was soon to become part of the new Skippack branch of the church.  He married his second wife, Magdalena Van Sintern, on May 19, 1709, in the home of her father, Isaac Van Sintern.  She was a sister of Jacob’s wife, Sarah, and would eventually become the family historian for the Van Sintern descendants.  Martin and Magdalena had seven children, and many of their descendants are buried at the Skippack Church.

            The Kolb brothers, including older brother Peter, who was a Mennonite Bishop at Manheim in Germany, were very influential in the early Mennonite Church, and their descendents can be found in all the Mennonite Churches of the Franconia Conference in Pennsylvania, though many have moved on to other areas and denominations.