Graeff, op den (Opdegraf, Updegrave, Updegrove) family

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Op den Graeff (Opdegraf, Updegrave, Updegrove), an old Krefeld Mennonite family, which turned Quaker in part ca. 1679-1680, four members of which immigrated to Germantown with the first 13 immigrant families in October 1683. Some of their descendants continued in or returned to the Mennonite faith and were found in the Montgomery County congregations of Skippack and Boyertown until modern times. The grandfather of the first Germantown immigrants, Herman, a linen weaver and merchant, was born 26 November 1585 of Mennonite parents in Aldekerk, about 12 miles (20 km) from Krefeld, moved in 1609 to Krefeld, married Grietjen Pletjes of Kempen in 1615, died 27 December 1642, leaving 18 children. This Herman op den Graeff was one of two delegates of the Krefeld Mennonite Church to sign the Dordrecht Confession in 1632 and served as preacher in the congregation there.

One son of Herman, Isaac Hermans op den Graeff, born in 1616, married Grietjen Peters (d. 1679), was converted with his family to Quakerism. His widow, who died in Philadelphia 19 October 1683, his three sons Derick (Dirk) Isaacs, Herman Isaacs, and Abraham Isaacs, and a daughter Margrit (married later to Peter Schumacher, immigrant from Kriegsheim who arrived in 1685) immigrated to Germantown as part of the 13 famous first families on the Concord, arriving at Philadelphia, 6 October 1683, settling in Germantown soon thereafter. Dirk was married in a Quaker ceremony in 1687 in Krefeld, to Nölken Vijtten, probably a daughter of Veit Scherkes, one of the 13 family heads. Herman had been previously married to Liesbet Isaacs, a daughter of Isaac van Bebber, another of the 13 first families. The op den Graerfs were a family of linen weavers in Krefeld and continued this occupation in Germantown, although the three brothers purchased jointly 2,000 acres of land in Germantown from William Penn's agents in Rotterdam, Jacob Telner and Benjamin Furley.

Dirk op den Graeff was the ieader of the 13-family immigrant group and remained prominent in Germantown civic life. He with his brother Abraham signed the famous first petition against slavery in America in 1688. In 1689 he was one of the 11 charter members of the Germantown corporation, in 1692 he was one of the town's six "committeemen," and in 1693-1694 he was the bailiff or chief executive (burgomaster). He died childless in 1697. Herman op den Graeff, like his brother Dirk, was a member of the Germantown Quaker meeting, one of the 11 charter members of the corporation, and died childless 2 May 1704, after having moved to Delaware County.

Abraham op den Graeff, the youngest of the three brothers, married to a Catharine (last name unknown), the) most skilled as a weaver, was the only one of the family to return to the Mennonite faith, which he did sometime after 1708. (His name is not in the Morgan Edwards list of the Germantown members of that year.) He was also the only one to have children. He died 25 March 1731, leaving four children, Isaac, Jacob, Margaret, and Anne, and was buried in the Evansburg Mennonite cemetery. Since his brothers died childless he inherited their land, but sold his house and 828 acres in Germantown sometime after 1704 and moved to Perkiomen, where he laid out the remaining 1,200 acres of the op den Graeff land. His son Jacob appears as a signer of a petition of 1728 to the governor of Pennsylvania for protection against the Indigenous.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 152-154. Has separate articles on Herman op den Graeff and each of his three sons.

Die Heimat (Kre­feld, 1927): 23.

Hull, W. I. William Penn and the Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania. Swarthmore College, 1935: 209-218. Has biographies of the three sons.

Pennypacker, Samuel W. "Abra­ham and Dirck op den Graeff." Penn Monthly 6 (1875): 679-692. Reprinted in Pennypacker, Samuel W. Historical and Biographical Sketches. Philadelphia, 1883: 201-221.

Rembert, Karl. Die "Wiedertäufer" im Herzogtum Jülich. Berlin: R. Gaertners Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1899.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Graeff, op den (Opdegraf, Updegrave, Updegrove) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 24 Sep 2023.,_op_den_(Opdegraf,_Updegrave,_Updegrove)_family&oldid=174689.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1957). Graeff, op den (Opdegraf, Updegrave, Updegrove) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2023, from,_op_den_(Opdegraf,_Updegrave,_Updegrove)_family&oldid=174689.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 561. All rights reserved.

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