Winter Tea Party winners: Angela's book,THE SCARLET COAT, will go to: Print copy- Andrea Stephens; e-book copy - Catherine Wight!

LUCY REYNOLDS has a table topper quilt on the way, and winners of the Valentine Ebook Collection are: Deanna Stevens, Caryl Kane, Anne Payne and Winnie Thomas. With thanks to all who joined in!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

German Migration to the American Colonies


When my Hochstetler ancestors arrived in Philadelphia aboard the ship Charming Nancy on November 9, 1738, they were part of a great migration of Germans to the American colonies. During the 18th century, more than 100,000 Germans arrived in this country. Among them were Mennonites, Amish, Swiss Brethren, and Pietists, who were the largest group. The Amish, which included my ancestors, and the Mennonites made up only about 5,000 of the German immigrants. Most of them settled in Pennsylvania, while smaller numbers made their homes in New York, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Together they became the largest non-English-speaking community in colonial North America.

German Peasants' War (1524-25), Lizenzstatus 1539
Why did so many Germans migrate here? During the 16th and 17th centuries, religious and political wars ravaged Germany and much of Europe. Armies trampled farmers’ crops, stole livestock, and put homes to the torch. Famine spread across the land and, along with ruinous taxes levied to pay for the wars and religious disputes resulting from the Reformation, made life intolerable. In addition, rulers determined what church their subjects belonged to, with no regard for personal conscience. The British colonies in North America, especially Pennsylvania under the Penns, offered them not only religious freedom and escape from constant wars, but also economic opportunity in the ability to own land, a right denied religious dissidents in Europe.

Conditions in Europe were bad, but the decision to move to America was not an easy one and required staunch determination and deep personal faith. The ocean crossing was often harrowing and could take as long as 2 months. A diary attributed to Hans Jacob Kauffman lists the deaths of many children and adults during his voyage. Below is Gottlieb Mittelberger’s vivid description of the conditions passengers endured during his passage in 1750.

The ocean crossing
“Children from one to seven years rarely survive the voyage; and many a time parents are compelled to see their children miserably suffer and die from hunger, thirst, and sickness, and then to see them cast into the water. I witnessed such misery in no less than thirty-two children in our ship, all of whom were thrown into the sea. The parents grieve all the more since their children find no resting-place in the earth, but are devoured by the monsters of the sea. It is a notable fact that children, who have not yet had the measles or small-pocks [sic], generally get them on board the ship, and most die of them. Often a father is separated by death from his wife and children, or mothers from their little children, or even both parents from their children; and sometimes whole families die in quick succession; so that often many dead persons lie in the berths beside the living ones, especially when contagious diseases have broken out on board the ship.”

Once they arrived, the troubles of the hard-pressed immigrants were not necessarily over. Many were forced to bind themselves as indentured servants until they could pay off the cost of their passage. In most cases this was voluntary, but sometimes individuals were kidnapped, bundled aboard a ship, and sold to the highest bidder as soon as it reached port in America. Either way, they often found their masters difficult or even abusive.

Others, however, moved to the frontier, where they built homes, communities, and churches. My ancestors were among these, settling along Northkill Creek in Berks County, Pennsylvania, along with other members of their Amish church, where they lived peacefully for many years. But in time they faced another tide of destruction and loss as England went to war with France and her Native allies.

I have been fortunate that many records and oral stories exist about my ancestors who came to this country in 1738. Does your family have information about your own ancestors who came to this country, whether in colonial times or later? If so, share a little bit about their history.
~~~
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers, an author, editor, and publisher, and a lifelong student of history. Her novel Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with bestselling author Bob Hostetler, won ForeWord Magazine’s 2014 INDYFAB Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, releases in Spring 2017. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year.

8 comments:

  1. Joan, thank you for sharing about your ancestors and German migration to the American Colonies. I admire their faith and courage leaving their homes for a new land.

    Over the years I have done some genealogy of my family and learned that my great-great-grandparents (father's family) came through Pennsylvania, which I did not know. Some even settled briefly here in Frederick, MD where I live before going on to Roanoke/Bonsack, VA. I had thought that they always lived in VA. That was exciting to learn that much. My brother is also doing our family genealogy, for so many years I was the only one interested.

    I love your Northkill series and The American Patriot series!

    Blessings, Tina

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  2. Joan, I love hearing about your ancestors! It's such an intriguing history. I also have ancestors ( On my dad's side.)that came from Germany in the 1700's and settled in New York.
    Bev

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    1. Bev, that's cool! I can't remember if you told me about your German ancestors--senior moment. lol! Obviously they were part of the great German migration too. A lot of people came to America during that century, while Europe was in such a state of chaos.

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  3. Tina, that's so interesting! It really is exciting when you discover new information about your ancestors. I just love hearing those stories from other people's families. There are several shows on TV now about individuals learning about their ancestors too, and the stories are fascinating. Thank you for your kind words about my series!

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  4. Great post, Joan. That's wonderful that you have a record of your family's migration to the colonies.

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    1. We're truly fortunate to know so much about our family's history, Janet. We had some family researchers over the years who preserved all the information they could find--bless them!

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  5. Two of my 9th great-grandparents came from England in 1632. Another pair of 9th greats came in 1630 on the "Swallow". And one other set of 9ths arrived from England in either 1632 or 1637.

    Two 7th great came from France in 1688. There is a story about these two--they were Hueguenots...he supposedly went ahead of her to England. Then she escaped, hidden in a wine cask, across the channel to England, and from there rip America. Here they owned an inn (more like a shack, known to be not very comfortable). In France, she was supposedly a ladies' maid to the king's mistress.

    All of the above were early settlers of Rye, NY.

    On another branch of the family, my 3rd great gf, his parents, and a few siblings came from Haworth, West Yorkshire, England, sometime between 1841 & 1849. He was baptized by Patrick Brontë! In 1856 he died at the age of 33 and was buried at sea. I don't know what happened there.

    One 2nd great gm came from London sometime between 1851 & 1875. She also died at 33 (I think from childbirth).

    My Swedish ggf came with his parents and siblings in 1880 when he was 5 years old. I have many pictures of him...he looks very serious in all of them, but my mother remembers him as being playful and silly.

    If I didn't hate writing so much, I would write a book!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Two of my 9th great-grandparents came from England in 1632. Another pair of 9th greats came in 1630 on the "Swallow". And one other set of 9ths arrived from England in either 1632 or 1637.

    Two 7th great came from France in 1688. There is a story about these two--they were Hueguenots...he supposedly went ahead of her to England. Then she escaped, hidden in a wine cask, across the channel to England, and from there rip America. Here they owned an inn (more like a shack, known to be not very comfortable). In France, she was supposedly a ladies' maid to the king's mistress.

    All of the above were early settlers of Rye, NY.

    On another branch of the family, my 3rd great gf, his parents, and a few siblings came from Haworth, West Yorkshire, England, sometime between 1841 & 1849. He was baptized by Patrick Brontë! In 1856 he died at the age of 33 and was buried at sea. I don't know what happened there.

    One 2nd great gm came from London sometime between 1851 & 1875. She also died at 33 (I think from childbirth).

    My Swedish ggf came with his parents and siblings in 1880 when he was 5 years old. I have many pictures of him...he looks very serious in all of them, but my mother remembers him as being playful and silly.

    If I didn't hate writing so much, I would write a book!

    ReplyDelete

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