Out of The Rhineland



In October of 1683 the first thirteen German weavers and their families from the Rhineland town of Krefeld arrived in America. Letters sent home by these and later Pennsylvania Germans brought forth an exodus from all the war-battered Rhineland states. By the eve of the American Revolution, German-speaking immigrants and their descendants numbered more than 300,000, accounting for more than a third of Pennsylvania's people and ten percent of the entire colonial population.

My daughters, Jennifer and Jessica O'Connell, have several early German ancestors, including Gottfried Knauss who was baptized 15 NOV 1707 as "Gotho Grodus" at Dudelsheim, Germany, and who came to America with his parents Johann Ludwig and Anna Margaretha Knauss in 1723.

My son Jeff Anderson's German ancestor Peter Moyers arrived from Switzerland in 1742.

My fatherís Shullaw ancestors may very well have started in this country with one Frederich Schola and his wife Catharina, who show up in the records as early as 1756. And my motherís ancestors, as we will see, included many early German/Swiss families.

John Tonjes Diekens and his wife arrived in America in 1866 and Herman J.A. Bartelle and his wife arrived in the 1870s.

More than 1.5 million Germans reached America before the Civil War. Still another four million have settled here since. Today, at least one out of every six Americans can trace all or part of his/her ancestry to German-speaking immigrants.

America has absorbed many German traditions. Christmas celebrations as we know them, the Easter egg, county and state fairs, coffee cakes, potato salads, dill pickles, hamburgers, and frankfurters are all ours because of our German ancestors.

Most of the colonial Germans were farmers. They were known as hardworking, thrifty and careful people. The land they first farmed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is still among the most productive of all American farmland, even though it has been under the plow for more than three centuries.

Germans were intent upon building a permanent way of life, for themselves and for their children, rather than accumulating hasty profits. Their farms were often smaller than most, at least at first. But they saved the fruit of their toil and usually were able to buy a nearby farmstead for every son as he married. By the end of the 19th century, German Americans had developed or purchased more than a hundred million acres, parts of which were located in almost every state of the union.

Germans and Swiss gunsmiths of Lancaster also developed the long Kentucky rifle with which the soldiers of the continental Army out shot the British. The Pennsylvania Dutch also developed the broad-wheeled, boat-shaped Conestoga wagons than helped win the Revolution and were the mainstay of the push westward.

Let us begin with the Krider family in that they may have been among the first of our German ancestors to arrive inAmerica.  Another reason for beginning here is that this is my motherís (Ellen), motherís (Alma), motherís (Carrie Catherine), motherís (Eliza), motherís (Catherine) family.

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