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Ferdinand Steinmeyer

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Steinmeyer (FARMER), FERDINAND, Jesuit missionary, b. in Swabia, Germany, October 13, 1720; d. at Philadelphia, August 17, 1786. He entered the Society of Jesus at Landsberg in September, 1743. He desired to labor on the missions in China but was sent to America instead, whither he came in 1752. His first mission was at Lancaster, where he remained until 1758, when he was transferred to St. Joseph‘s Church in Philadelphia, to look after the Germans in that section. His labors were not, however, limited to that city. He made numerous missionary journeys through Eastern Pennsylvania and Northern and Central New Jersey. He also crossed over into New York, but of his priestly labors in the latter state prior to the close of the Revolution we have no written record. This absence of written evidence is easily accounted for by the fact that a priest rendered himself liable to the death penalty for attempting to enter New York while it remained under British rule. There can be little doubt, however, that Father Farmer on his journeys through Northern New Jersey crossed over into New York and attended to the Catholics there, even venturing into the city itself, where he kept the faith alive and practically founded St. Peter’s Church. With all his missionary work he found time to take an active interest in public and literary affairs. In 1779 he was appointed one of the first trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, while as a philosopher and astronomer his reputation had reached the learned societies of Europe with whom he corresponded. He died at Philadelphia a few months after returning from a missionary trip to New York. His funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church, but the remains were interred in old St. Joseph‘s.


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