Op den Graeff family

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Herman op den Graeffs coat of arms at the stained window of Krefeld

Op den Graeff, also Updegraff, Updegrave, Updegrove, Uptegrove, was a German and American family.


The earlist known Op den Graeffs lived in Aldekerk (Kleve), near the border to the Netherlands. During the 17th century the Op den Graeffs were a family of linen weavers in Krefeld and continued this occupation later in Germantown, although the family purchased jointly 2,000 acres of land in Germantown. In Krefeld the family belong to the Mennonite circle, which turned Quaker in part ca. 1679-1680. In the end of the 17th century some of the Op den Graeff`s descendents migrated to the United States. They are among the thirteen families (Original 13) often referred to as the Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Founders, who arrived on the ship Concord on October 6, 1683.[1][2][3] One of these was famous Abraham op den Graeff, a cousin of William Penn, who signed along with three others the first organized religious petition against slavery in the colonies, the 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery.

Abraham op den Graeffs descendants named Opdegraf(f), Updegraf(f), Uptagraff(t), Updegrave, Updegrove, Updegraph and Upthegrove. Pennsylvania Governor Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker was the fourth great-grandson of Abraham.[4] 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.

During the earlier 19th century David Benjamin Updegraff of the Updegraff branch of the family was a conductor (one of the leaders) of the Underground Railroad. He was one of the first outspoken anti-slavery men, and voted with the first liberty party from conscientious convictions. His house was the home of antislavery advocates and temperance lecturers also a station on the Underground Railroad.

Notable family members[edit]

see also:

Connection with William Penn[edit]

The Op den Graeff family is sometimes said to be related to William Penn, the founder and gouverneur of Pennsylvania.[6][7] The sources in support of this view cited above, are derivative sources, relying on derivative sources, and hence not reliable. Whether the original source documentation is sufficient to justify these claims is unknown.


  • Driessen Pletjes (1550–1645) ≈ Alet Goebels
    • Alet Pletjes (1583-?) ≈ (Sir ?) John Jasper
      • Margaret Jasper (c 1624-1682), 1st ≈ Nicasius Van der Schure; 2nd ≈ admiral Sir William Penn (1621–1670)
      • Ann Jasper (born c 1628) ≈ William Crispin (1627–1681)
    • Greitgen Pletjes (1588–1643) ≈ mennonite bishop Herman op den Graeff (1585–1642)
      • Abraham Hermans op den Graeff (~1610–1656) ≈ Eva von der Leyen
      • Isaac Hermans op den Graeff (1616–1679) ≈ Grietjen Peters (died 1679)
        • Abraham op den Graeff (1649–1731) -- Updegraff family
        • Adolphus op den Graeff (1653–1680) -- Updegrove family


  1. ^ "The Friend, Volume 48", The Friend., 1875. Harvard University. p. 67
  2. ^ "Ship Passengers Mentioned in Merion MM Minutes; Chester County, PA.", Yvonne Prough. U.S. Genealogical Web Archives. Accessed 29 sept 2011
  3. ^ "1683 Concord", Pro Genealogists. Accessed 29 sept 2011
  4. ^ "Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania", John W. Jordan. Genealogical Publishing Com, 1978. ISBN 0-8063-0811-7, 9780806308111. p. 486
  5. ^ Newspaper article (Johannes de Graeff / Op den Graeff coonection
  6. ^ "History of the Op Den Graeff/Updegraff family", June Shaull Lutz, 1988, S. 1
  7. ^ Mennonite World Review - More than our family tree

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]