Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Trip from Germany in the 1700's

Historical records tell us that ANDREAS HITE emigrated to Rotterdam, Holland, aboard the ship "Saint Andrew Galley" stopping for supplies in Cowes, England, enroute to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania September 26, 1737.

Rotterdam was the Dutch seaport through which he traveled in his travels to come to America, with his wife Magdalena.

Europe was experiencing a tremendously violent upheaval as the axis of power shifted the nation from the vice grip of religious control which for centuries held the nation within the iron fist of religious suppression. Zwingli and his disciples became the first to renounce allegiance to Rome in 1520, and within 50 years 40 percent of the inhabitants of Europe observed a "Reformed Theology." The Swiss COnfederation embraced the new faith, and the cantons of Zurich, Berne, Basel and Shaffhausen were Protestant. But the Catholic church exercized resistance, with the 30 Years War a tumultuous and difficult era for the Palatinate region, and other areas vitally impacted by it. The war was primarily a religious war, which included the witchhunts from 1622-28. Witches were said to communicate with the devil and were blamed for many of the hardships and illnesses.

In 1688, King Louis XV of France sent troops into the Palatinate to secure it for France. Again in 1702 the people of the Palatinate endured the hardship of war, with thoughts of abandoning homes and farms in the Palatinate looming largely as their major hope for the future, as the war dragged on.

During winter of 1708-1709 people huddled around their fires to keep warm, with frequent discussions of immigration.

Difficult questions were asked: What about the travel documents? Which family members would go? What month to leave in? How would they obtain the necessary finances? What possessions would they take with them? What ship would they travel on?

As they faced the difficulties, and formulated travel plans, France's King Louis XIV invaded their land, ravaging especially the towns in the Lower Palatinate, forcing them to flee in their small boats, called scows on the Rhine River, to Rotterdam. The trip to Holland was not an easy journey, but took on an average between four to six weeks.

Embarking on their journey, Palatine refugees ran the risk of being discovered by the authorities, who demanded bribes to allow them to pass unhindered or threatened to force their return. If they encountered a sympathizer, they may be given food, clothing and money. Upon reaching Holland, the family encamped outside the city of Rotterdam in a reed covered shack.

There in this "city of refuge" called Rotterdam, the Hites booked passage aboard a sailing ship to America. Either the family made it to the Netherlands, lived and worked here to earn their passage, or they fled, with a good deal of hardship along the way, since money would have been hard to come by, unless providencially saved ahead of time, and with the economic situation, this would have been hard to do.

Most of the German immigrants sailed to Pennsylvania from Dutch ports, such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam in Holland, after coming down the Rhine River from Germany. Thus, English speaking people may have confused them as being Dutch because the ship lists reported they embarked for the new world from Dutch ports. Thus, some people may have incorrectly thought these Palatine Germans and other German speaking people were Dutch.

People referred to as "Pennsylvania Dutch" were ethnic Germans that immigrated to Pennsylvania, with most coming to America between between 1730 and 1760. They weren't Dutch in the modern sense of Holland Dutch; but Germans who fled the Rhineland Palatinate in times of persecution and finding refuge in Switzerland, or Alsace which is now in France, they traveled to America via Holland or the Netherlands.

If their economic situation as refugees necessitated them living and working in Holland, their names on immigration documents may reflect this Dutch heritage.

Rotterdam started out as a small village on the River Rotte. By 1250, the river mouth was closed off by dams; rising sea levels meant that too much salt water was able to penetrate inland. However, these dams hampered shipping traffic. This made it necessary to carry cargo over the dam, loading it from one ship to another. The dam therefore turned out to be an outstanding location for the trading of cargo. Thanks to the herring fishing industry, the village grew into a city.
Around 1600, the port was able to accommodate as many as 100 herring ships. Rotterdam developed into a mercantile port. Merchant ships sailed from Rotterdam to South America and the Dutch East Indies and back. Ships would anchor right in the heart of the city to among other things discharge tobacco and spices. These products were stored in the warehouses on the quays.

Those people living in America who describe themselves as Black Dutch or Black German, are a particular of a ethnicity, that is not always fully understood. Schwarze Deutsche or Black Germans, found along the Danube River in Austria and Germany, in the Black Forest and, to a lesser extent, along the Rhine River, have dark hair and eyes, unlike the fairer people both north and south of them. Their descendants in America may be called either Black Dutch or Black German.

The Black Forest, or Schwarzwald, is a section of Southwestern Germany that borders on Switzerland on the south, on the Neckar River to the East and on France to the West. The Northern gate to the Black Forest is Pforzheim.

The Black Forest is named for the beautiful mountain landscape with its dense population of pine trees. It is a region of incomparably unspoiled nature with its forests, mountains and meadows.
The Black Forest is known for its half-timber houses many of them 300 years old. The craftsmen of the area are well known around the world for their cuckoo clocks and the Christmas season is never complete without a nutcracker from this region. Castles, vineyards and orchards dot the hillsides.

Dutch is the English form of Deutsch in German or Duits in Dutch (Nederlands). It has come to mean the people of the Netherlands only in English recently, but it originally meant all speakers of German in the broadest sense. This includes the entire German sub-branch of the Germanic Branch of the Indo-European Language Family.

The other sub-branches are the Anglo-Friesian (English, Scots and Friesian) and the Nordic (Swedish, Dano-Norwegian [Danish, Riksmal {Boksmal} and Landsmal {Nynorsk}], Icelandic, and Faeroese [Faroese]). There are many dialects and languages in the German sub-branch, divided into High German and Low German. The forms of High German are German [High Saxon, Alemanni, High Frankish (Franconian), Swabian, Bavarian, Austrian, Luxembourgese, Alsatian, Styrian], Swiss German, and Yiddish. Low German includes Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans [South African Dutch], Hanoverian [Low Frankish {Franconian}], Hessian, Low Saxon [Brandenburgian], Holsteiner, Pomeranian and Prussian. The Frankish area includes Rheinland-Pfalz and Hanover, with the area south of Aachen [Charlemagne's capital], centered on Frankfurt, speaking a High German dialect, and the area from Aachen north, centered on Essen, speaking a Low German dialect. The Pennsylvania Dutch are Low Germans from Germany, not Dutch from Netherlands. The Pennsylvania German language resembles most closely the dialects of the German Palatinate.

However, Pennsylvania German speakers came from various parts of the southwest German speaking corner including Swabia, W├╝rttemberg, Alsace, and Switzerland. In the first generations after the settlers came over there is believed to have been a merging of the dialects. The language which resulted resembled most the Palatinate German.

The term "Pennsylvania Dutch" is a result of English-speaking people mispronouncing the German word "Deutsch." Yet another theory is that most of them, came here on ships which embarked from the port of Rotterdam, at the mouth of the Rhine, which is in Holland.
Passengers lists submitted by the ship's captains to the Philadelphia immigration authorities, used the word "Pfaltzers", which means from the Pfalz, the Palatinate, in what is now the modern German state of Rhineland-Pfalz.

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