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This is the SIXTY-EIGHTH page of John BLANKENBAKER's series of Short Notes on GERMANNA History, which were originally posted to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Discussion List.  Each page contains 25 Notes.

(See bottom of this page for Links to all Notes pages.)
This Page Contains Notes 1676 through 1700.

GERMANNA History Notes
Page 68
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Nr. 1676:

For a lighter note, I thought we look at the probability that Spotswood was descended from one of the Magna Charter Barons.  There were about 17 generations involved.  If each one of the generations has a probability of 0.95 of being true, then the probability that all 17 generations are true (which is required) is 0.42.  That is to say, the probability the line of descent is true has dropped to less than one-half.  It is in the realm of a guess.

Is the estimate of 0.95 realistic for one generation?  Probably it should be higher for the later generations and less for the earlier generations.  Why do I estimate the probability of the truth being so low in the individual generations?  The data in the line of descent is not well documented and, in fact, much of it is the result of people trying to make an honorable line of descent.  The publishers of the books of descents of the Nobles based their work on what people told them.  And to ensure the sale of the books the publishers were not critical about what was given to them.  What we have is something equivalent to "Glory Volumes" that were popular in the 1800's.  Would you trust a genealogy that compounded 17 generations of data from these Glory Volumes?

What are your chances of descent from one of the Magna Carta Barons?  Actually, they are probably close to one.  I don't know what the particular of descent is, but I feel comfortable in saying there is at least one line of descent from one of the Barons to you.  The Barons lived about 1200, or about 800 years ago.  Assuming 30 years per generation, there would be about 27 generations.  Your ancestry chart would need 2 times 2 times 2 ..... times 2 for a total of 27 "2's" slots to be filled with names.  This would be 134 million places on your chart.  Assuming that you had some ancestors from England, and there were 2 million people living in England at that time, then on the average every person living then in England would be on your chart 67 times!

If you don't think you are descended from nobility, you haven't looked beneath the surface at how the nobility behaved.  Even if they had behaved honorably, there were cadet sons who fell out the nobility and became a part of the masses.

On the whole, I am not impressed by claims to be descended from Karl der Gross (Charlemagne), or from any of the Barons.  Race horses have a better documented line of descent than we do.
(22 May 03)



Nr. 1677:

The first wave of immigration to America from the German-speaking lands came from southwest Germany, from Switzerland, and from the lands on the west bank of the Rhine River; however, the first emigration from these regions was not to America, but to regions to the east.

The first half of the Sixteen Hundreds had the Thirty Years' War as its marker.  The second half of the Sixteen Hundreds was a period of rebuilding, and this continued into the Seventeen Hundreds.  Because of the heavy destruction during the Thirty Years' War, there was much rebuilding to do and the burden fell, as usual, on the workers who were taxed for money and labor.  By the middle of the Eighteenth Century, Carl Friedrich could contemplate his realm in Baden-Durlach with some satisfaction.  His capital was Karlsruhe, where the palace was in good condition.  The general living conditions in the realm were improving.

If one placed a triangle on a map of Germany with the corners at Karlsruhe, Heilbronn, and Heidelberg, then the enclosed space was the German home of much of the Second Germanna Colony.  If conditions were improving, why did they leave?

Not every ruler followed the example set by Karl Friedrich.  He was ambitious and enlightened and implemented reforms in the judicial system, industry, agriculture, science, education, and social welfare.  It took a little while (1767) before he abolished torture and serfdom (1783) but improvements had been made before these dates.  He believed that if his subjects prospered, they would be able to contribute more to his treasury (his motivations were in part self centered).  If he had more income, he could make more baroque structures, make his army stronger (though he was not inclined to war), make his bureaucracy stronger, which would allow him to collect even more revenues.  At least, he was enlightened in the sense that he saw that he and his subjects prospered together so he was all for the improvements.

There were problems in Baden-Durlach though.  His advisers said that as the Eighteenth Century advanced that the territory was becoming overpopulated.  This was true throughout Germany, as rebuilding after the war took place.  There were minimal wars and these were constrained to smaller regions.  The population did grow and as it did problems arose.  Lands were being subdivided by inheritance and the pieces were becoming too small to afford a living.  A new, large class of landless people was being created.

I am following along with Aaron Spencer Fogleman in his book, "Hopeful Journeys".  Of the few books of a general nature that I recommend, this is one.
(See earlier Note on Fogleman's book, on Page 67, Note 1665.)
(See additional discussion of Fogleman's book on Page 68, Note 1686.)
(23 May 03)



Nr. 1678:

In Baden-Durlach, the population had reached 82,000 by 1746, and 109,000 by 1785.  The Margrave, Karl Friedrich, was troubled that the government could not manage the realm as closely as he wished.  Traditions, village parochialism, and self-interest led many peasants to ignore some of the decrees and resist the moves to improve the state.  (Peasants can be among the most conservative people.)  Sometimes, the peasants were successful.  The government in Karlsruhe had attempted to draft spinners to work in newly opened cloth mills.  Other peasants resisted the attempt to carve up the common fields for private use.  Orders banning deforestation were ignored, as were regulations to control inheritance practices.

In Karlsruhe, one of the most serious problems in the view of Friedrich and his advisors was emigration.  Too many people were leaving, when the wealth of a state was judged by the numbers of people in the state.  To an extent, this had always been a problem, but it intensified in the early Eighteenth Century.  The mercantilist mentality demanded there be people to buy and sell goods.

Carl Friedrich shared this problem with other rulers in southwest Germany and Switzerland.  Some left from the larger states with a forward-looking policy, such as Baden-Durlach and from the smaller ecclesiastical states (such as the Blankenbakers and their kin), or from the tiny principalities ruled by Knights or lesser nobility (such as the Willheits from Schwaigern and the Weavers from Gemmingen).

They traveled east and west such great distances that there was no hope of returning if things did not work out.  If fact, they often had to go into debt to get where they were going.  The majority went east, the traditional escape route, but a small minority journeyed even farther to the “island of Pinssel Fania”.  What was happening in southwest Germany and Switzerland, which were the origins of most of the emigration from German-speaking lands?  How had state-building, recovery from war, and population growth transformed the landscapes of these regions?  Why did this lead to the emigration of hundreds of thousands of subjects, and what made some of them choose to go to British North America?  The reasons they had for going influenced them in choosing the places to settle and in their attitudes toward the authorities in their new homes.

From the late Seventeenth Century to the mid-Eighteenth Century, the inhabitants of southwest Germany had undergone a period of recovery and reconstruction that transformed and redefined the social, political, economic, religious, and demographic fabric of their societies ­ societies that warfare in the Seventeenth Century had nearly destroyed.  Changes came in agriculture, religion, the role of the state, and demographics.
(24 May 03)



Nr. 1679:

It is difficult to exaggerate the effects of Seventeenth-Century warfare on southwest Germany.  A large percentage of the population fell victim to the plaque or combat, and many more fled the region.  A village which was averaging 30 births per year went two years without recording a birth.  The grave diggers, though, were busy, as deaths went up tenfold in this period.  One consequence of this was that society became more mobile.  People moved, not just from village to village, but from region to region, or from country to country.  The war did not end abruptly in 1648, but continued on and off for another fifty years especially along the Rhine River.

As more peaceful times did return, many of the old ways returned also, but, in other cases, new ways emerged.  For a period, labor was very scarce and gave the surviving members more power.  Slowly, though, the local rulers began gaining more control over their subjects' lives.  In the Eighteenth Century, the larger governments deepened their hegemony over regional and local governments, even village life, by extending their bureaucracies and their taxing power.  This extended to the legal system and to the military forces.  The losers were the cities, guilds, estates, and weaker neighbors.  Though this pattern was present before the wars of the Seventeenth Century, it reemerged after the Seventeenth Century.

In the southwest, the process of state-building was closely connected to population policy and, ultimately, emigration.  Most of the rulers of the larger states (Wuerttemberg, Baden-Durlach, the Palatinate) believed that a rational population policy was central to rebuilding a strong, prosperous state.  A key thought was that it was good to encourage in-migration and to restrict out-migration.  People (subjects) are power, people are income from taxes, people are soldiers.

Though the evidence in the Eighteenth Century showed there were too many people on the land, leading political theorists argued that until every square inch of land was under maximum cultivation, until all possible raw materials were being used, and until there was more labor than necessary to maintain industrial efforts, then a country was not over populated.  These theorists also argued that this condition had not yet been reached.  Accordingly, many territorial rulers maintained policies that promoted immigration into their region while restricting or making it difficult to emigrate.  In some cases, outward migration was simply forbidden.

These efforts on the part of the rulers were only partially effective because the people would not conform like chess pieces on a board.
(27 May 03)



Nr. 1680:

One technique used by the rulers, large and small, to prevent people from leaving their realm was to tax them heavily if they wanted to leave.  This was a new type of endeavor which would not have been possible in the previous century.  In that war-torn century, many people simply fled their homes to what they judged would be a safer place from the plague-carrying armies.

In the Eighteenth Century, the taxes took two forms, one on the people who were leaving, and one on their property.  There was another aspect to emigration which involved serfdom.  Serfs, in theory, belonged to the ruler and could make no decisions on their own.  If serfs desired to emigrate, they first had to apply and pay a large fee for manumission.  All of these taxes created a need for an expanded bureaucracy to collect the taxes.  Most people had had no reason to consider themselves as serfs.  But with the desire to emigrate, it was necessary to show or prove one's status.  A potential emigrant might be faced with three taxes, the manumission, the property tax, and the permit to emigrate.

For the rulers, it meant an increased source of revenue and it was still a discouragement to emigration.  It also meant more state employees were needed to oversee the work.  Tens of thousands of government records attest to the fact that people were emigrating and that taxes were collected.  But not everyone obtained permission and paid the fees.  Many left in the dark of the night, slipping quietly out of their homes.  (In the Germanna community, a fine was levied on Melchior Brombach to be paid by the family members who remained.  Melchoir had not obtained the proper permits and had not paid the taxes.)  Fogleman, whose book, "Hopeful Journeys", which I am using, thought the practice was most common in the Kraichgau, the area from where many of the Second Colony people came.

Agricultural practices shifted in the Eighteenth Century away from the common field system to a more capitalist economy using new methods.  In spite of the increase in the production per unit of land, the land was able to support only so many people.  With the growth of the population, the production per person fell.  Many people were forced from the land and into other occupations.  Labor was a surplus item and therefore wages were low.  Real per capita income fell.

On the farms, the peasants began plowing and planting fields that had lain fallow.  There were improvements in sheep and cattle breeding.  More fruit trees, potatoes, and high-yield crops came into greater use.  Clover and manure were used to improve the farms.  In spite of these improved procedures, the standard of living went down for many.  Emigration looked increasingly attractive.
(28 May 03)



Nr. 1681:

By the early Eighteenth Ccentury, southwest Germany had become a collage of ethnically diverse states with all three of the officially sanctioned religions (often all three in the same territory).  In addition, there were several smaller, radical groups and a significant Jewish population.  The diversity of the region in many matters was partially of the result of the in-migration that had been encouraged by the rulers at the end of The Thirty Years' War.  This had brought different nationalities and different religions into the same areas.

In addition to the standard religions of Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed, new sects developed.  Even William Penn, on his recruiting trips to sell land, had urged the formation of German Quaker groups.  Alexander Mack (sometimes called Mauck) formed a group that at first was the New Baptists, or Dunkers.  Many Anabaptists from Switzerland came to Germany and Alsace.  Huguenots were coming in from France also.

[As an aside, in May 2000 Eleanor and I visited Wagenbach, the estate farm where George Utz worked.  If we had walked off the back of this farm we would have come very quickly to Unterbiegelhof, the estate farm where Hans Herr, a Mennonite, lived and worked; however, we took the roads, which went a bit farther than this, but we did find Unterbiegelhof, where we were graciously received by the current owner.  Both of these farms are about twenty miles southeast of Heidelberg.  It is very likely that George Utz knew Hans Herr, even though they did not attend the same church.]

Even before so many of the Germans moved to Pennsylvania, they were becoming familiar with diversity.  It was not this diversity that was causing trouble and creating a desire to relocate.  The Germans were becoming accustomed to differences of thought.  Still, there were problem areas as we saw not too long ago when we were discussing Pastor Henkel, who lived not too far from Utz and Herr.  We also have the exiles from Austria who chose to leave Austria rather than give up their Lutheran faith.  By the Eighteenth Century, though, they had traded their religious problems for economic problems, which led to their desire to emigrate.

The desire to emigrate was not caused by religious problems, but due far more to the question of economics.  The recovery from the wars lead to a population growth which the new agricultural technology could not overcome.  After the first few Germans went to America, they started writing letters home.  The comparison between Pennsylvania and Germany was tempting and, faced with the knowledge that it could be done and how to do it, a larger number of Germans decided they could do it.  The hope was more land, lower taxes, and more freedom.
(29 May 03)



Nr. 1682:

From the Eleventh to the Seventeenth Century, the history of Europe can be analyzed in terms of the population, which swung widely about the trend line.  This affected the agricultural practices, the movements from land to the cities, the movements in and out of specific regions, and the inheritance practices.  Movements from the land into the cities and other areas occurred during peak population periods.  When the population was down, there were fewer incentives to improve agriculture.  Also, at these times there was a tendency to divide the holdings among the heirs.  There was less pressure to emigrate or move to the cities.

At the end of the Thirty Years' War, in 1648, the population was drastically lowered in southwest Germany.  With surplus resources in the region, in-migration occurred.  Still, there was enough land that a certain laxity in the agriculture practices could be tolerated.  There was little reason to hold back on the division of one's estate among all of the heirs.  With the brighter outlook for making a living, people had larger families.  There was some improvement in vital statistics in terms of fewer deaths and more births.  The population rapidly grew.  In the Eighteenth Century, there was a growth of 70% from 1720 to 1800.  This reversed the conditions from the late 1600's and the land became overcrowded.  This was a contributing factor to out-migration.  This was not a new process; significant numbers of western Europeans moved to eastern Europe under similar conditions, even as early as the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.  When one talked about leaving Western Europe, the natural thought was that it would be to the East.

At the end of the Thirty Years' War, much of Europe was holding its earlier population levels.  In southwest Germany, the cycle of decline and rebirth was at a low point in population.  Many people moved in from as far away as Switzerland and Austria.  Though the deaths attributed to the war relieved the population pressures, the movements of people into the region after the war helped rebuild the economy.  Along the Rhine River, progress was erratic because of the French invasions late in the century.

During this expansionary phase, the inhabitants could farm large tracts, have large families, and divide the farm among the children.  The high rate of natural increase with the addition emigrants led quickly to over-population and with that came many problems.  Primarily, the standard of living for any one individual fell.  Even as this was occurring, the peasants held to their usual practices of dividing the land among the children.  Land holdings became too small to support a family, even though some of the newer agricultural practices were being used.

Within the ruling circles, there was some recognition of what was happening.  At the same time the rulers believed that their wealth was dependent on the number of people.  By 1724, though, the government of Baden-Durlach forbid immigration into the realm.  They could see that they had too many people.
(30 May 03)



Nr. 1683:

Some people in Baden-Durlach saw the problems being created by the growth of the population and the division of the land among the heirs.  They told the authorities that the health and wealth of the realm were being harmed.  Among the measures that the government in Karlsruhe took was to outlaw marriage before the age of 25 (to check the population growth).  Also, it was forbidden to divide the land into "too small parts".

The peasant's reaction could be expected.  They resented the interference, and ignored the regulations.  They continued to divide their land among their heirs.  This problem continued into the mid-Eighteenth Century, when the courts issued a general proclamation forbidding the division of fields, pastures, and vineyards under one-quarter "Jauchert" (about a fifth of an acre).  Gardens could not be divided into parcels of less than one-eight Jauchert, or about a tenth of an acre.  Since an acre is about 43,000 square feet, a tenth of an acre would be just over 4,000 square feet, or the floor area of a large house.  For people who were attempting to live from such small parcels, their standard of living could only be very poor.

Another part of the measure by the Karlsruhe government was to forbid further immigration.  Though immigration had been strongly encouraged in the late Seventeenth Century, it became illegal in 1724.  Out-migration was still discouraged, and taxed.

Faced with the prospect of making a living off a parcel of land a mere fraction of the size worked by their grandparents, and faced with increasing government interference in the affairs and customs of the villages, many peasants chose to seek their fortunes elsewhere, as they had done for centuries under similar pressures.  Up to the year 1720, the level of emigration was very low, but it started increasing rapidly after that date.  By 1750, the numbers reached a peak that probably had seldom been attained.  After a decline, a second peak occurred just before 1770.  (These patterns included immigration to the east, as well as to the British North American Colonies.)

The figures were very similar throughout southwestern Germany and the areas along the Rhine River.  Much of this immigration was caused by climatic and agricultural disasters.  The most notable of the climatic influences was the 1708-1709 severe winter.  After that, it was not until later in the century that climate had such a profound effect.  A large emigration in 1770-1771 was the result of the worst crop failure of the century, followed by a severe winter.

As living conditions fell, it took less and less in the way of natural disasters to encourage people to leave for other areas.
(31 May 03)



Nr. 1684:

Immigration from southwest Germany and from Switzerland was often sponsored by one of three ways.  Recruitment agencies included governments who wanted settlers.  England and its Colonies, the Habsburg Empire, Prussia, and, later, Russia all recruited Germans.  Some of these areas were very early destinations, having existed from medieval times.  In addition to the relocations of the Germans, special situations arose as in France when Huguenots left and were welcomed in many areas, including in southwest Germany itself.

Two countries, France and Holland, did not develop state policies in which in-migrations were encouraged.  In general, these counties supplied settlers to other countries, but usually under special circumstances.

Without state support, there was no large-scale migration.  Private organizations and individuals often were the mediums through which the migration took place.  Land settlement schemes run by speculators attracted settlers and their agents (called Newlanders) handled the transportation arrangements.  Many of these were semi-private, not official agents of the governments.  One example was the scheme of William Byrd in Virginia to recruit one hundred families to settle on a large tract of land in Virginia.  He was supposed to obtain the people within three years to make his claim on the land good.  The land grant came from the government, but the recruitment was strictly a private adventure.  In this particular case, Byrd's agents had succeeded in getting a large number of people from Switzerland, and a ship was chartered in Rotterdam to take them to Virginia.  A bit of greed overtook the promoters and they agreed to take also about fifty people from Freudenberg, near Siegen.  The ship was overloaded and it never reached the shore of Virginia.  (The ship was the Oliver and the year was 1738.)

A very strong source of encouragement to emigrate came from individuals such as friends, families, relatives, and neighbors, who had already successfully settled in distant lands.  These could be from eastern Europe or from North America.  These letters were often very encouraging and were a wealth of information for the would-be emigrant.  These could be said to be the original do-it-yourself books.

The problem for the immigrant was often in choosing where to go.  In 1723, Hungary offered fifteen years of freedom from taxation and other public dues to craftsmen who would agree to settle permanently there.  In the same year, Habsburg officials offered free transportation, housing, land, tax relief for three to five years, religious privileges and a free status (i.e., non-serfdom).  The area the Habsburgs had in mind was in Rumania where they wished to build a buffer state more friendly to them.  Later, Russian made some very generous offers to people who would emigrate.  So many Germans moved that maps show large regions in Russia where the language was German.
(02 Jun 03)



Nr. 1685:

In connection with the recent notes on migration, for which most everyone thinks of as outward migration or away from Germany, I thought we look at some of the inward migrations to Germany.

Leonhard Christler, sometimes given as Christele, is mentioned for the first time in Lambsheim town records on 1 March 1709, when he received citizenship there.  This, of course, means he was not born there.  His actual origins have not been proven, but three factors suggest that his origins might have been in Bern, Switzerland.  The spelling of the name as Christele suggests Switzerland.  This family name is to be found in Bern.  His appearance in the early 1700's suggests it may have been in response to the French invasions in the last part of the 1600s.  In Lambsheim, Leonhard married Anna Maria, daughter of a local blacksmith, Johannes Bender.  This Johannes Bender, with his two sons-in-law, Leonhard Christler and Christian Merkel, sold their property in Lambsheim and moved to Pennsylvania in the year 1719.

The family of Christopher Zimmerman originated in the Canton of Bern (Switzerland).  Michael Zimmermann, a native of Steffisburg, migrated from there to Sulzfeld, Baden, before 1665 and worked as a dairyman at Ravensburg, a castle which overlooks Sulzfeld and the surrounding countryside.  In Switzerland, Michael had married Benedicta.  They moved to Germany where she soon died.  Michael married Elizabeth Albrecht, the widow of Hans Lehmann of Steffisberg in Switzerland.  A son, Christian, of this couple married Maria Schlucter at Sulzfeld.  Their son, another Christian, married and had the son Hans Christoph, the immigrant to Virginia.

Barthlin Mueller (also Myller) was born at Oberbaldingen where he married Salome, the daughter of Sebastian Metzger of Altdorf, Schaffhausen, Switzerland.  Their daughter, Maria, married in 1684, Matthias Hengsteler.  Hengsteler was the maiden name of the wife of Johann Michael Willheit, and this couple came to Virginia.  Her first name was Anna Maria.  Usually the couple is referred to as Michael and Mary Willheit.

While putting together these notes (from the Before Germanna series by Gary Zimmerman and Johni Cerny), I was struck by the fact that many of the names rang a bell by their correspondence to, or duplication, of Virginia names.  The maiden name of Maria Willheit's mother was Kuentzler.  Since the "tz" spelling is redundant because the "z" sound has the "t" sound embedded in, we could have the spelling, Kuenzler, a name which occurs in the German Lutheran Church in the Robinson River Valley.  Christopher Zimmerman's grandmother was Maria Schuchter, and Anna Barbara Schoen's second husband was a Schluchter.(The Zimmerman and Blankenbaker families were close, as John Zimmerman married Ursula Blankenbaker.) Deobald Crisler had an uncle with the name Bender.
(03 Jun 03)



Nr. 1686:

[I return to Fogleman's "Hopeful Journeys."]  [See previous references to his book on Page 67, Note 1665, and on Page 68, Note 1677.)

I have been attempting to establish that there were many migratory movements of people in Europe.  Concentrating on southwest Germany, we have seen there were movements in and out of the area.  Before 1800, even for centuries, the eastern lands were the destinations for most of the people who left southwest Germany.  The eastern lands offered the overcrowded, wanderlust-stricken peasants enough land, resources, religious freedom, and protection from enemies (such as the Turks), to begin building flourishing German communities wherever they ended up.  The destination government often assisted the people, in groups of forty or fifty families, in establishing their own semi-autonomous villages, set apart from the native people in the region.

The British government did not try to the extent that other governments did.  They did encourage the circulation of pamphlets and books extolling North America regions.  In 1709 they were so successful, since perhaps 12,000 people descended on London, that this soured the British on German emigrants.

A disadvantage of the choice of North America over eastern Europe was the "Indian" threat.  The Turkish threat in Europe receded throughout the Eighteenth Century, but the dangers from Indians to European settlers on the American frontier seemed to remain constant.  Pennsylvania seemed to be pacificist in its outlook toward protecting the frontier people.  British recruiters attempted to counteract this by portraying the Indians as docile and exotic neighbors.

The lack of special privileges, the difficult and expensive journey, and the Indian threat may explain why so few emigrants, perhaps less than 15 percent, chose to go to British North America.  Four regions in Germany have official statistics on the destinations of where their emigrants were going.

In Northern Baden-Durlach in the Eighteenth Century, 26 percent of the head of families chose North America.  A similar number applied to the Lower Neckar (around Heidelberg).  From the Western Palatinate and the Saarland, the percent choosing North America fell to 11 percent, though the number leaving the region was much higher.  From Ulm and its territories, only 16 percent chose North America.

[You could have been a Rumanian or a Hungarian or a Russian!]

Traveling to the west, across the ocean, was not the favorite choice of the immigrants.  One historian estimates that perhaps 900,000 people left Germany in the Eighteenth Century, and that only 15% of these went to the Thirteen Colonies, or to the United States.  Why did that 15 percent choose to go west rather than east?
(04 Jun 03)



Nr. 1687:

William Penn personally visited along the Rhine River as early as 1680 and recruited people for Pennsylvania.  He got about 100 Mennonites from urban settings to go to Pennsylvania (where they founded a town with the novel name of Germantown outside Philadelphia).  Though Penn's agents continued their recruiting efforts and he published pamphlets extolling Pennsylvania, he did not obtain emigrants in the numbers that he thought he would.  A few additions were made to the inhabitants of Germantown, but, in general, there was a long dry spell of thirty years before any sizeable number of Germans came.

Even in the face of the thousands of Germans who descended on London in the year 1709, Pennsylvania obtained hardly any of those in immediate years after 1709.  Separately from the thousands who wanted to come in 1709, a small group of Mennonite farmers made their way quietly to Pennsylvania where they settled on the frontier, in what is now Lancaster County.  We wish that Hans Herr and his party had left better records of their motivations.

We do know that these Mennonites settled on the frontier where they could buy large quantities of land.  Some bought only 500 acres, but many took 1,000 acres.  All the farms were next to one another, which is the reason they went to the frontier.  There were no other settlers there to interfere with the purchase of about 10,000 acres of land all together.  Since a man could only farm about 50 acres at the most at that time (with the aid of a family), why did they buy so much land?  It appears that they were anticipating having a German community to be augmented with their friends, relatives, and families.  We do know that they had good reasons for leaving Germany, but they could have gone to the east.  Why did they choose North America, and probably Pennsylvania, in particular?

We do not know.  We do know that they started seeking others in Germany to come.  They wrote letters and even sent a "salesman" to recruit more people.

Because of the bad taste in English mouths due to the 1709 influx of Germans, the British put a damper on further German emigration to America.  All was quiet for several years.  Then all of a sudden, in 1717, several hundred Germans decided to go to America (I believe that Klaus Wust gave these numbers once).  Why this occurred is not known of course, but it would be of interest to many Germanna Colonists to know this because the number included about 80 Germans who were side-tracked by Capt. Tarbett, Captain of the ship Scott.

The mystery lies not in the reasons for leaving.  The mystery lies in the reasons for choosing America.
(05 Jun 03)



Nr. 1688:

Some American historians have suggested that the reason Germans went west across the Atlantic ocean rather than to the east, across land, was for the religious freedom or tolerance that was available in America.  In general, this statement does not hold water.  The British were actually restrictive.  No Catholics need apply.  The Catholics comprised a large group in the southwest of Germany and they were not welcome in America.  They could find land in the east, though, as could the Protestants.  (In spite of the British opposition to the Catholics, many did find a home in the colonies.)

Among the smaller religious groups, many Moravians, Mennonites, and Hutterites did find a home in the east.  Still, it may be that the members of the Hans Herr party in 1709 did see America as a place where they could exercise their religion more freely.  They faced a lot of oppressive forces in Germany because of their Mennonite religion.  They were not allowed to own land; they had to pay a special tax just because they were Mennonites; they had to serve in the Army (they were pacifists); they could not have a Church; not more than 20 could meet at one time; they were not allowed to recruit.  They had plenty of reasons to migrate and the question was, "To where?"  A group of people, faced with three options, will have some members who favor each of the choices.  It just may be that America was the "happenstance" choice of the group.

Once some of them were here, and they started writing letters home, they created a desire to move to America by their description of it.  The most important point was that there was a lot of land that seemed to be available for the taking.  In America, one could own the land outright and do what he wished with it.  In the east, the land was often communal, or restricted in some way.

The burdens of the military and taxes were light.  In general, military duty consisted of the militia mustering.  Armies were almost nonexistent.  Taxes were light and applied to relatively few things.  There is no question that the letters from America were the strongest selling point for America.

These letters were not just personal items.  They were miniature newspapers for public consumption.  The writer often wanted to be remembered to every person and often asked a lot of questions about the people still in Germany.  That, along with the natural curiosity of the people in the village, meant that there were essentially twenty readers for each letter.

The major points in the letters were often the abundant land, the low taxes, the general freedom for the people.  Don Thommen emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1736 and he wrote home (to Niederdorf near Basel):

"I took a place with 350 Juchert [about 435 acres], two houses and barns, and have, believe it or not, 6 horses, 2 colts, 15 cattle, and about 35 sacks of oats, 46 sacks of wheat, 25 sacks of rye, and 23 sacks of corn."
The mouths must have been drooling in Niederdorf.
(06 Jun 03)



Nr. 1689:

I have talked about southwest Germany, and, in particular, about Baden-Durlach.  I wish now to concentrate on the region where Baden-Durlach, the Palatinate, and Wuerttemberg come together (and not too far from Hesse, which was mentioned not long ago).  The area is noted for having many small, relatively weak rulers who were semi-independent of the domination by any of the three larger surrounding regions.  If one were to draw a line from Heilbronn to Heidelberg, it would cut through this region which is called the Kraichgau.

Many of the Germanna colonists came from this area, which includes the villages of Schwaigern, Gemmingen, Bonfeld, Sinsheim, and perhaps some of the area served by Pastor Henkel.  Physically, the Kraichgau is partially defined by the sweep of the Neckar River as it changes its course from its northerly flow into a westerly flow and empties into the Rhine River just after it has passed Heidelberg.

Most of the people who emigrated from within this region left in small groups from the villages.  Often, there were only a few families, who were sometimes related to one another.  These endeavors were strictly private affairs.  After 1717, the emigrants could often say that they knew someone who had left previously.  Hans Herr and his party left from this region in 1709 and they wrote letters home and sent emissaries to Germany to persuade more people to come.  Those that left in 1719 for Virginia appear to have been aware of what had happened to those who left in 1717.

The political heads of these smaller regions might best be considered as Knights, having the control of their own small region.  The Kraichgau refers to a scattered set of tiny, semi-independent territories scattered haphazardly across the landscape in this region.  The heads of these entities united in a Confederation of Knights, known as Kraichgauer Rittersschaftskanton.  In 1600, membership in the Confederation consisted of seventy-five Knights, some rich and some poor, who owned seventy-two separate territories.  The average size of one territory was fourteen square miles.  This is an area less than four miles by four miles.  If the seat of the Knight were in the center, the farthest reach of his domain would be about two miles from his seat.  There were fifty-three parishes in this region.  Most of the parishes consisted of subsistence-farming communities, but a few of the villages were designated as market towns, such as Schwaigern.

There was no accurate census for the fifty-three parishes until 1809.  Then, there were 41,700 inhabitants after a century of growth.  This was about 30 people per square mile.  Since one square mile contains 640 acres, there was about 20 acres per person.

The descendants of the Second Germanna Colony wrote about their life in Germany in a petition, and they used the phrase, "Petty Princes".  We can see the reason why the phrase was appropriate.
(07 Jun 03)



Nr. 1690:

The Kraichgau is a region between the Rhine and Neckar River valleys, south of Heidelberg, due west of Heilbronn, and northeast of Karlsruhe.  The land is rolling, of varied soils, providing an uneven but rich topography.  Politically, there is no defined Kraichgau region as it consisted of a scattered collection of tiny, semi-independent territories strewn haphazardly across the landscape.  Perhaps the reason that they were semi-independent is that they lie where several larger German States came together, Baden on the south along the east bank of the Rhine, Wuerttemberg on the south spread across the Neckar, Hesse on the north, and the Palatinate on the west.  The smaller, local rulers took advantage of the confusion to set up their own confederation of "Knights".  In 1599, there were 75 knights in the Confederation.  Toward Heidelberg, where Pastor Henkel worked, the Palatine Elector exerted his influence and obtained the loyalty of the Knights in the northwestern region of the Kraichgau.  Even here, though, jurisdictions were confused, as the Lutheran churches were subject to the control of the Lutheran body in Hesse, even as groups in the Palatinate tried, successfully in the end, to exert control over the Lutheran churches in the northern Kraichgau.

The ethnic, religious, and political mosaic in the Kraichgau in 1700 was varied.  There were people from Switzerland, from France, from Austria, and from Bavaria who had moved in the last half of the Seventeenth Century.  All three major, recognized religions were represented, i.e., the Lutherans, the Reformed, and the Catholic.  In addition there were Huguenots, Mennonites, and Jewish adherents.  (Perhaps all of this diversity prepared those who emigrated to Pennsylvania with a good training in living with others who believed differently.)

In the Kraichgau, no strong state was emerging, such as in Catholic Austria or Lutheran Brandenburg-Prussia.  There was not a regional power which controlled the area as in the Lutheran state of Wuerttemberg or Catholic Bavaria.  Even the weaker states of Baden and the Palatine Electorate exerted no strong influence throughout the Kraichgau.  Instead, tiny loosely united principalities, such as the von Neipperg, von Gemmingen, and von Bettendorf territories were the norm.  The von Neipperg family had its seat in Schwaigern.

The Knights and lesser nobles suffered during the Thirty Years' War along with the inhabitants of their territories.  After the war, they faced a rebuilding job, as did all of the people in general.  They needed to re-exert their authority, which had been diminished sharply.  They needed money.  The inhabitants were trying to reclaim what they considered their rights.  They, too, needed their income.  The result was a series of clashes between the rulers and the villagers.  The villagers sought help from the rulers of the larger states such as Wuerttemberg, whom the local rulers did not want involved, since they, the local rulers, might lose what power they did have.
(09 Jun 03)



Nr. 1691:

Thom said that 34 lucky people went to Germany yesterday.  As I understand the trip, the first half will be spent in the Nassau-Siegen area, and the second half will see a lot of the Kraichgau, plus some adjoining areas.

In the Siegen area, my favorite spot is probably Trupbach.  I do have a cousin living there whom Eleanor and I like very much.  He is Lars Bohn and he has a strong historical bent.  There are many old buildings in Trupbach, but one must watch for the false assumptions.  Typical of all villages, a lot of change has taken place in the buildings.  The functions and uses have changed, and new techniques for making them comfortable have come about.  The most prominent building in town, the Chapel School, was not there when our people left in 1713.  There were, though, twenty odd houses which are still standing from that time.  In 1713, they were combination buildings for people and animals.  All of these places were the centers of farming activity.  There is still farming taking place around Trupbach, and some of the farm headquarters are still right downtown in Trupbach.  One is still able to see the Fischbach house and the Otterbach house, plus the foundation of the Richter house.

Siegen itself has quite a bit to see.  There is a lot of history in its buildings.  The Upper Castle has good exhibits and is a view point for the whole town of Siegen from its upper windows.  It is not too far from the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church).  This was the scene of many baptisms and marriages of Germanna ancestors, since it was the main Protestant church serving such outlying communities such as Trupbach and Eisern.  None of our Germanna ancestors came from the town itself (I believe).  This building was rebuilt after WW II along the lines of the original building.  Put your walking shoes on, the ones that go up and down hills, because the old town of Siegen is anything but level.  Like many old places, it was built on a hill, albeit a small hill.  The object in building on a hill was twofold.  It gave a better view of the surroundings and the things that lurk there.  Then also, it was easier to defend.

Out of Siegen, to the west generally, there are several interesting villages.  Oberholzklau and Niederholzklau are not far.  The first of these villages was the subject of Chad Holtzclaw's talk at the Germanna Reunion last year.  On beyond this is Oberfischbach, where Haeger preached and Holtzclaw taught.  A little bit more brings you to Freudenberg, which is a good place to walk around among the half-timbered buildings.  In the park above the town, more film gets used than anywhere else in town.

Be sure and take plenty of film as the photo opportunities are numerous everywhere that you go.  I wish you a good light and clear air so that your photos will be something that you will be proud of.

Frankly, I am a bit jealous that I am not going.  Enjoy.
(10 Jun 03)



Nr. 1692:

The last note closed with a note of envy toward those who were making the trip to Germany; however, let us hope that a word of warning can be sent through to them to be on the alert for the dangers they may encounter.

Example One.  In Siegen, Prince William Hyazinth, in 1707, seized Friedrich Flender and convicted him, without a trial, of leading the miners in Weidenau in a rebellion.  The penalty was a beheading and displaying his head on a pole in the courtyard of the Upper Castle so that the residents of Weidenau could see what happened to people who dared to upset the Prince's realm.  Certainly any visitors to the castle will want to be extra cautious, and, especially, they will want to avoid the pool of blood which may still be on the ground.

Example Two.  In Schwaigern, in 1716, a witch was burned at the stake close to the market plaza.  ( I believe the place is marked and is being reserved for any future needs.)  The witch's daughters were forced to watch, and then they met the same fate.  So watch out for anyone lighting a match, or gathering wood, or erecting a pole.  Don't do anything in the way of witching; it could be dangerous to your health.

If we were looking for a reason to immigrate or leave town, with conditions such as these, it would not take much too much more in addition to these hazards.

Things were more civilized in "America".  Up in the Colony of Massachusetts, in the year 1692, nineteen witches were executed and another 150 were jailed as possible witches.  Apparently that was the last year, so the practice ended then, and by 1693 there were no witches left in America.

In Siegen, trouble started under the rule of Prince Hyazinth, who was in charge of the Catholic areas to the east of Siegen.  He waged a war against the Protestants to the west of Siegen.  The war was economic in nature and he attempted to force the Protestant realm into submission by withholding iron and charcoal from them.  The result was a disastrous situation for everyone.  While Hyazinth was out of town once, Flender attempted to rally the miners.  When Hyazinth returned and heard about Flender's acts, he executed him.  In 1712, the armies of the two princes clashed in Siegen with cannons being shot (look out for loose cannonballs).  This was a contributing factor in the decision for forty-odd Germans to leave for some place that was safer with a better prospect of finding work.

Travel is broadening but it may be dangerous.
(11 Jun 03)



Nr. 1693:

[There was a short absence on my part; it seems as if I caught a bug.]

Brenda Nay/Carter asked if the location of the Nay (Noeh/Nöh)family in Trupbach was known.  I consulted the book, “Ortsgeschichte Trupbach” to see if it said anything about the Nöhs/Nays.  I did not find it there.  We know from the writings of B. C. Holtzclaw that Johannes and Maria Clara Noeh lived at Trupbach until 1734 when they emigrated to America (and lived then in the Little Fork area).

Johannes Noeh was born in 1694 at Klafeld.  He married Maria Clara Otterbach of Trupbach in 1718 and thereafter the family appears to have lived in Trupbach.  She was two years younger than Johannes, and was the daughter of Johann and Margarethe Otterbach, but no information is given about the exact house they lived in.

Tomorrow is the second Saturday in June and I will be at the Hans Herr House leading tours if the weather does not scare prospective visitors away.  Normally, I would have been there last Saturday but the Pennsylvania German Society was holding a meeting at Trappe to which I wanted to go.  Trappe is the location of one of the first church buildings that Henry Muhlenberg guided into existence in the year 1743.  The building is normally kept locked so a visit inside is not always easy.  The Society described the building as, “...the oldest Pennsylvania German Lutheran Church in America.”  Of course, this is a very strange description and I chided the President of the Society about the phrasing, which could easily be misleading.  The problem in describing the Trappe Church is that a lot of people would like to make it appear that it is older than Hebron church located outside Madison, Virginia.  Sometimes they describe it as, “...the oldest unaltered Lutheran Church in America.” The adjective “unaltered” is meant to eliminate Hebron since Hebron had an addition to it.  But this description even stretches the truth since in the 1800's the church at Trappe lost its roof in a storm and it had to be replaced, which might even be classed as an alteration, since some changes were probably made.  This storm did other damage as the Trappe church had a Tannenberg organ but it was destroyed also by the storm.  Much of the case was saved, but enough was lost so that it does not look like a Tannenberg organ.

Hebron can claim to be the oldest Lutheran Church in the Americas still in service as a Lutheran Church.  The Swedes had Lutheran churches before Hebron and Trappe but they have changed their denomination.

So, if you are in the area tomorrow, come on over to the Hans Herr House just a few miles outside Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
(14 Jun 03)



Nr. 1694:

In recent notes there have been allusions to mass movements into and out of Germany.  Here are a few very notable ones.

The Hapsburg rulers, especially Friedrich III, tried to colonize the Slavic lands to the southeast with German people, especially Catholics, to provide a buffer zone between Vienna, in the east of Austria, and the Turks.  The vast area which became known as Austro-Hungary absorbed large numbers of German colonists.  Many German family names are still to be found there though modifications have been made.  Since Friedrich III lived from 1440 to 1493, all Germans were then Catholic and the Protestant groups had not arisen yet.

Later, there were migrations from Austria westward into Germany proper.  The Salzburgers were a notable group from 1588 to 1731.  But other migrations took place in the 1620 time frame, and in the 1650 time frame as many Protestants left other areas of Austria.

Another large group to move into Germany was the migration of Huguenots.  Again, there was a religious basis to this migration, since they could not remain in France as Protestants.  This was generally in the 1685 to 1753 time frame.  Altogether, perhaps 30,000 families moved.  One Huguenot is very well known in the Germanna community and that is John Fontaine.  Since the people had French names, many were slightly altered in Germany to conform to the new community.  The name Button in the Germanna community originates from a French Huguenot name.

The Counter-Reformation of the late 16th Century showed a heavy movement of Jesuits into the university areas as far north as the large cities of Münster, Würzburg, and Prague.  Genetically, the impact of this was mostly through the families which accompanied the Jesuits.

The Waldensers moved to the area of Heidelberg by a political agreement during the years 1686 to 1687.  One of these families was the Astor family who lived there for four generations before going on to America in 1783.

In the latter part of the Sixteenth Century, numerous Flemish and Dutch people moved into the Rhineland, where they formed large colonies near Frankfurt and nearby Oberursel.  Except during the Thirty Years’ War, more Flemish and Dutch people continued to come.

Also, in the years 1650 to 1670, Swiss Protestants (especially Anabaptists) moved to the German states of Baden, Württemberg, and Rheinland-Pfalz.  The Kraichgau received a large number.  Two families that went to the Pfalz, were the Huber and Hershi families whose names have come down to us as Hoover, as in President Hoover, and as Hershey in the chocolate bars.
(16 Jun 03)



Nr. 1695:

[Some of you liked to read about men whose identity was hidden until the end, so maybe I will do a few more.]

Call our man Jakob, for that was his given name.  He was baptized as a Calvinist (i.e., Reformed) in the Palatinate in 1640 (some say he was born in Frankfurt am Main).  His father was a Calvinist minister and had to leave the Palatinate after the Thirty Years' War.  Jakob came to New Amsterdam as a 20-year old corporal in the service of Holland.  He turned to fur trading, became rich, and was wealthy when he married the widow of Pieter van der Veens in 1663 (when he was only 23 years old).  He was soon regarded as one of the highly affluent people in New York and became a Deacon of the Dutch Reformed Church.  In civic affairs he became a captain in the militia.

Though his wife was well placed socially, Jakob was not readily accepted by her friends.  The poorer people accepted him readily and regarded him as their champion against the wealthy merchants and landowners.  He became Lt. Governor and, when the Governor left the scene, he became the acting Governor.

Relations with France had gone from bad to worse and the people in New York were worried about the French in Canada.  Jakob issued a call for the Colonies in America to unite in common defense.  This upset the British, who did not want a union government in North America.  Within two years, a new governor, Henry Sloughter, came from England to replace Jakob.  Jakob did not question the right of the British to name the governor and yielded up the post to Sloughter.

By then there were two political parties, one of the lower and middle classes, and one of the upper classes, the politicians, the merchants and the large landowners.  Jakob was associated with the former.  Under the new governor, Jakob was charged with high treason for daring to consult with the other Colonies.  High treason carried a death sentence and the party of the aristocrats pressed for this.  They got Sloughter drunk at a banquet and obtained his approval for Jakob's execution.

The actual execution led to a near riot between the adherents of the political parties but it was carried through.  In 1695, Parliament rescinded the judgement and restored Jakob's wealth to his family.  The town of New Rochelle erected a monument to him.  In 1974, Pace University, whose campus includes the site of the execution, dedicated a plaque to him in the presence of his American descendants.  The name on the plaque is Jakob Leisler.  Another German had contributed to the making of America.
(17 Jun 03)



Nr. 1696:

I have just heard from a Sheriff and it is asked that I change my ways.  I am serious.  It seems that back in notes 1386 and 1387 I went astray and Rebecca Liner Sheriff has pointed out to me my errors.  Now as a good law-abiding citizen who tries to be upright and straight shooting, I will confess up and try to make my amends.
(To easily navigate to the referenced Notes, click
1386 or 1387.)

Back in those two notes I was writing about the Christian Clements/Clemons family who lived on the tract of land just to the south of John Paul Vaught.  There was another connection besides this physical proximity.  Christian Clements married Catherine Vaught.  They left five children:

  1. Gaspar (Caspar), born about 1746, left a will, dated 25 May 1813 in Rockingham County, which was proven a couple of years later.  This Gaspar named his wife as Mary and his children as Christian, John, Nancy (who married George Crawford), Catren, Polly, and James.

  2. Mary Catherine married George Trout.  There is at least one son, David, known for Mary and George, and he married Susannah Whetsel in 1787.

  3. Elizabeth married Philip Barrier/Burger/Berger.  They had the sons, Casper, Jacob, Jacob, and John.  George Trout and Mary Catherine his wife (see above) deeded land to Margaret Barrier in 1761.  This land was delivered in 1769, though, to Gaspar Barrier, who was married to a Margaret.  Elizabeth Clements Barrier died 7 Oct 1791.  The name of Philip Barrier appeared in a court case of 15 Feb 1769.

  4. Margaret married Henry Lyner/Liner.  The Rockingham Co. Tithables in 1783 shows a Henry Liner and his sons, Christopher and Adam.  [Rebecca Liner Sheriff descends from Margaret and Henry, who were one of her sets of sixth great grandparents.  They moved to Franklin County, Georgia, around 1785.  Rebecca has deeds with their names and a copy of Henry's will.  Margaret died after 1813 in Haywood County, North Carolina.]  A complete set of children for Margaret and Henry Liner includes Henry, Adam, Christopher, Catherine, Eve or Eavy, Mary, and Margaret.

  5. John married Elizabeth and he may have been in Washington County, Virginia, in 1800.

When compared to the statements in note 1387, it will be seen that Margaret and Elizabeth were reversed there.

Maybe I won't have to post bond to gain my freedom.
(18 Jun 03)



Nr. 1697:

Our German today was born in 1829 in Bavaria, and might be surprised at the world wide attention which he created in his lifetime and even up to today.  His family was modest and our man was ambitious and desirous of "getting ahead".  He came to America when he was 14 years old and lived with an uncle in Louisville, Kentucky.  Along about 1849 he became infected with the gold-rush fever.

He traveled to New York, where his brothers Jonas and Lewis were in the dry goods trade and he bought a supply of silk, cloth, and a few luxury items.  On his way west, he took along a supply of canvas intended for the Conestoga wagons made by German wheelwrights in Pennsylvania.  These wagons were used by many prospectors crossing the continent to get to the gold fields in California.  Our man though took the sea route instead and sailed around the Cape Horn to California.  Before arriving in California, he had sold all of his trade goods except the canvas.

An old-timer in the gold fields chided our young man for not having brought along a supply of pants because prospecting for gold was hard on pants.  The canvas was still unused and unsold so it was turned into some pants.  The pants proved to be very popular and our man formed a trading company with his brothers in New York.

The brothers collectively decided to switch from bleached canvas to "serge de Nimes" (a particular kind of cloth from Nimes, France) which was renamed "denim".  Another change was made when a prospector, Alkali Ike, complained to his tailor, Jacob W. Davis, that his pockets tore loose from the pants as a result of Alkali's carrying nuggets in his pockets.  Jacob was tired of the complaints so he secured the pockets with copper rivets.  Alkali tried these pants, which proven to be a great success and he never tired of bragging about them.  Jacob, the tailor, reported this to the man who had created the first pants from canvas.  Alkali and our man applied for a patent on this feature, and patent 139,121 was issued on 20 May 1873.

This last date, several years after the first pants were made from canvas, is regarded by many as the start of the firm Levi Strauss and Company.  Levi himself never married and the company was run in later years, after Levi's death in 1902, by his nephews.  Levi himself hated the word, "jeans", which some people called his pants.  He always called them "overalls" which to us has a slightly different meaning.

Whatever one calls the product, they sold by the billions, and are still selling, around the world.  In some countries one had to buy them on the black market because of the difficulty of getting them.  Psychologists have studied them and written about them (or about the people who wear them).  The phenomena all started with a piece of canvas and the imagination of a young German immigrant.
(19 Jun 03)



Nr. 1698:

When he was baptized in Kandern in Baden on 23 Feb 1803, he received the given names of Johann August.  He was an adventurer and colonizer whose controversial role in the development of America is characterized by the quotation, "Confused by the favor or hatred of interested parties, his image vacillates through history".  [From Schiller]

After his birth, he lived in Switzerland and felt at home enough there that he called himself throughout his life as a German-Swiss, not as a German-American.  In spite of his love for Switzerland, he was forced to flee from his creditors there at the age of 30.

In California, Johann August worked on the cultivation of grains, crops that had been almost completely neglected due to lack of irrigation.  The present prosperity of the Sacramento Valley is largely the result of his foresight.  Because he did so much that helped to make California a part of the United States, it can be said that he added ten percent to the population of the United States.

Backing up in the history, some dates are obscure.  He did live in the Swiss Canton of Basel and served in the Swiss Army, where he rose to the rank of Captain.  But his heavy debts forced him to flee.  In 1826, at the age of 23, he married Anna Duebel, by whom he had three sons and a daughter.  In 1834 he came to New York.  In the next few years he was trapping in Oregon and visiting Vancouver and the Hawaii Islands.  Most of all, he was attracted by California.  In July of 1839 he arrived in San Francisco and promptly made a nice sum of money.

Shortly after his arrival, he presented the Mexican Governor with a bold plan for founding a colony in the unexplored north, on the southern bank of the American River, close to where it joins the Sacramento River.  The Governor granted him a vast tract of land, where he planted vast orchards, vineyards, and grain.  Water was needed and he instituted extensive irrigation projects.  In June of 1841, the Governor visited him at Neuve Helvetio, as Johann August called his "kingdom".  The governor made him a citizen of Mexico.  His enterprise was the talk of California, and he was considered the richest and most respected citizen of California, with the title of General.

Then it all collapsed, almost overnight.  A James W. Marshall, on 24 Jan 1848, found nuggets of a yellow metal on Johann August's land.  News of the discovery of gold spread like a wildfire in spite of the efforts to keep it secret.  The employees all left but were replaced by thousands of gold prospectors who destroyed everything that Johann August Sutter had built up.  Sutter salvaged little and fled.  Eventually he secured a modest pension from the Federal government for his part in making California a part of the United States.  Eventually he bought a house in the Moravian town of Lititz, Pennsylvania.  He died here in 18 June 1880.
(20 Jun 03)



Nr. 1699:

I will come out immediately and say that the subject of this note is Robert Wagner.  He was born in Hesse in 1877 and he came with his parents to America in 1886.  His father had difficulty earning a living in New York.  He worked as a building superintendent for a free basement apartment and five dollars a week in wages.  Robert, or Bobby, as he was called, was the youngest of seven children and had to help the family, which he did by delivering newspapers and groceries.  His older brother, Gus, who worked as a cook, recognized talent in Bobby and helped him in his desire to gain an education.  Bob was able to study at New York's City College.  His parents though grew discouraged and returned to Germany.

After NYCC, Bob attended law school and was admitted to the Bar in New York.  During an impromptu debate in a Democratic Club, he attracted the attention of politicians.  Four years later he was a member of the Albany legislature.  From 1908 to 1918 (age 31 to 41), he served as a New York State Senator, including serving as Minority Leader from 1911 on (age 34).  In 1914 (age 37) he was Deputy Lt. Governor for a few months.

His philosophy was "to fulfill our social obligations".  A factory fire that killed 200 workers in 1911 strengthened his resolve and he worked tirelessly to achieve safer working conditions, unemployment insurance, and restrictions on child labor.  As a result of his activity, the labor unions announced that New York had the best labor laws in the US.

In 1919, Wagner was appointed Justice of the New York Supreme Court.  In 1926, he was elected to his first term in the US Senate.  He advocated, sometimes as a lonely sentinel, job security, unemployment support, and old age pensions.  In 1932, he pushed through the Relief Construction Act, which showed, for the first time, that the Federal government had some responsibility for the unemployed.

When Roosevelt was elected President, Wagner became the legislative pilot of the New Deal.  Some of his hopes were implemented, but others were rejected.  Some say that from the beginning of the American nation no one had more impact on legislation, some of it revolutionary.  No one doubted his honesty, humanitarian integrity, and dedication.

In 1947 (he was only 70), he resigned from his Senate seat because of health.  His son, of the same name, followed in his political footsteps and served three terms as Mayor of New York City.  The father died in 1953.

All of this from a nine-year-old boy who stepped ashore in New York with his impoverished parents and family.
(21 Jun 03)



Nr. 1700:

Friedrich was born in 1834, in a small village in Hesse.  He became one of the giants of American business life, but that is getting ahead of the story.  His parents were wine growers, using their farm of about 15 acres.  The father died when Friedrich was not yet 12 years old, and a year later Friedrich had to quit school and work on the farm.  He had no brothers, only four sisters, so he was perhaps sorely needed on the farm.  He came to America shortly after 1850, or when he was a little more than 16 years of age.

For a while he worked as a day laborer near Erie, Pennsylvania, where he married Elizabeth Bladel.  He moved to Rock Island, Illinois, and worked on a railroad.  He was also a carter.  Above all, he was a quiet, shy person who listened and kept his eyes open.  He quickly comprehended what it might take to get ahead in America.  In one of the few interviews that he ever gave in his life, he said, “The secret lay simply in my will to work.  I never watched the clock and never stopped before I had finished what I was working on.”

His bosses entrusted him with the direction of a sawmill in Rock Island.  Then he was put in charge of a timber yard.  When the company he was working for was ruined in the panic of 1857, he was able to buy the timber yard and the sawmill with the little money he had saved.  Soon he was buying logs from the shores of the Mississippi and acquiring more sawmills.  In 1864, he began to buy pine tracts in Wisconsin.  Eventually, he could take a standing tree to the customer in the form of lumber using only his own facilities.  Competition was severe, but by 1880 Friedrich was the winner and he had never played the game improperly.

He acquired still more land in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.  He took the view that he was not working for himself but for his grandchildren.  He bought more than three million acres of timber land from the railroads.  When reporters found out that one man owned so much timber land, they wrote, “He was the mysterious man . . . it is astonishing that such enormous wealth could be acquired without the public knowing anything about it . . . ”  Certainly Friedrich did not make any effort to inform anyone.  Another author wrote, “He had a special talent for amassing millions in utter silence.”  His name was not to be found in the “Dictionary of American Biographies”.  “Who’s Who in America” discovered him in 1911, only three years before his death.

Even while he held more timberland than any other person in America, he held rather liberal views and showed great concern for his workers.  He impressed them upon the necessity of protecting even the smallest tree.  When the National German American Bank was in difficulties in 1893, he made it solvent again within a few months.

When Friedrich left Germany in the middle of the nineteenth century as a youth, perhaps it was only Frau Weyerhäuser who expected great things from him.
(23 Jun 03)


(To see John & Eleanor Blankenbaker's May, 2000, and May, 2002, Germany and Austria photos, click here.)

(To see maps of villages in Germany and Austria from which our Germanna ancestors immigrated, click here.)


(This page contains the SIXTY-EIGHTH set of Notes, Nr. 1676 through Nr. 1700.)

John and George would like very much to hear from readers of these Germanna History pages.  We welcome your criticisms, compliments, corrections, or other comments.  When you click on "click here" below, both of us will receive your message.  We would like to hear what you have to say about the content of the Notes, and about spelling, punctuation, format, etc.  Just click here to send us your message.  Thank You!


There is a Mailing List (also known as a Discussion List or Discussion Group), called GERMANNA_COLONIES, at RootsWeb.  This List is open to all subscribers for the broadcast of their messages.  John urges more of you to make it a research tool for answering your questions, or for summarizing your findings, on any subject concerning the Germanna Colonies of Virginia.  On this List, you may make inquiries of specific Germanna SURNAMES.  At present, there are about 700 subscribers and there are bound to be users here who can help you.  If you are interested in subscribing to this List,

(GERMANNA History Notes, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 John BLANKENBAKER.)
(GERMANNA History Web Pages, Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 George W. DURMAN.)
This material has been compiled and placed on this web site by George W. Durman, with the permission of John BLANKENBAKER.  It is intended for personal use by genealogists and researchers, and is not to be disseminated further.

Index Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES and Genealogy Comments
INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GERMANNA NOTES
Pg.001-Notes 0001-0025
Pg.002-Notes 0026-0050
Pg.003-Notes 0051-0075
Pg.004-Notes 0076-0100
Pg.005-Notes 0101-0125
Pg.006-Notes 0126-0150
Pg.007-Notes 0151-0175
Pg.008-Notes 0176-0200
Pg.009-Notes 0201-0225
Pg.010-Notes 0226-0250
Pg.011-Notes 0251-0275
Pg.012-Notes 0276-0300
Pg.013-Notes 0301-0325
Pg.014-Notes 0326-0350
Pg.015-Notes 0351-0375
Pg.016-Notes 0376-0400
Pg.017-Notes 0401-0425
Pg.018-Notes 0426-0450
Pg.019-Notes 0451-0475
Pg.020-Notes 0476-0500
Pg.021-Notes 0501-0525
Pg.022-Notes 0526-0550
Pg.023-Notes 0551-0575
Pg.024-Notes 0575-0600
Pg.025-Notes 0601-0625
Pg.026-Notes 0626-0650
Pg.027-Notes 0651-0675
Pg.028-Notes 0676-0700
Pg.029-Notes 0701-0725
Pg.030-Notes 0726-0750
Pg.031-Notes 0751-0775
Pg.032-Notes 0776-0800
Pg.033-Notes 0801-0825
Pg.034-Notes 0826-0850
Pg.035-Notes 0851-0875
Pg.036-Notes 0876-0900
Pg.037-Notes 0901-0925
Pg.038-Notes 0926-0950
Pg.039-Notes 0951-0975
Pg.040-Notes 0976-1000
Pg.041-Notes 1001-1025
Pg.042-Notes 1026-1050
Pg.043-Notes 1051-1075
Pg.044-Notes 1076-1100
Pg.045-Notes 1101-1125
Pg.046-Notes 1126-1150
Pg.047-Notes 1151-1175
Pg.048-Notes 1176-1200
Pg.049-Notes 1201-1225
Pg.050-Notes 1226-1250
Pg.051-Notes 1251-1275
Pg.052-Notes 1276-1300
Pg.053-Notes 1301-1325
Pg.054-Notes 1326-1350
Pg.055-Notes 1351-1375
Pg.056-Notes 1376-1400
Pg.057-Notes 1401-1425
Pg.058-Notes 1426-1450
Pg.059-Notes 1451-1475
Pg.060-Notes 1476-1500
Pg.061-Notes 1501-1525
Pg.062-Notes 1526-1550
Pg.063-Notes 1551-1575
Pg.064-Notes 1576-1600
Pg.065-Notes 1601-1625
Pg.066-Notes 1626-1650
Pg.067-Notes 1651-1675
Pg.068-Notes 1676-1700
Pg.069-Notes 1701-1725
Pg.070-Notes 1726-1750
Pg.071-Notes 1751-1775
Pg.072-Notes 1776-1800
Pg.073-Notes 1801-1825
Pg.074-Notes 1826-1850
Pg.075-Notes 1851-1875
Pg.076-Notes 1876-1900
Pg.077-Notes 1901-1925
Pg.078-Notes 1926-1950
Pg.079-Notes 1951-1975
Pg.080-Notes 1976-2000
Pg.081-Notes 2001-2025
Pg.082-Notes 2026-2050
Pg.083-Notes 2051-2075
Pg.084-Notes 2076-2100
Pg.085-Notes 2101-2125
Pg.086-Notes 2126-2150
Pg.087-Notes 2150-2175
Pg.088-Notes 2176-2200
Pg.089-Notes 2201-2225
Pg.090-Notes 2226-2250
Pg.091-Notes 2251-2275
Pg.092-Notes 2276-2300
Pg.093-Notes 2301-2325
Pg.094-Notes 2326-2350
Pg.095-Notes 2351-2375
Pg.096-Notes 2376-2400
Pg.097-Notes 2401-2425
Pg.098-Notes 2426-2450
Pg.099-Notes 2451-2475
Pg.100-Notes 2476-2500
Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025


INDEX Links to All Pages of John's GENEALOGY COMMENTS

(As of 12 April 2007, John published the last of his "Germanna Notes"; however, he is going to periodically post to the GERMANNA_COLONIES Mailing List in the form of "Genealogy Comments" on various subjects, not necessarily dealing with Germanna.  I'm starting the numbering system anew, starting with Comment Nr. 0001.)

Pg.101-Comments 0001-0025
This Page Contains Notes 1676 through 1700.

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