18th Century Settlers of Stokes County, NC

Segment 6


Welcome to the final segment of this series. Stokes county was formed from Surry County in 1789 and Germanton was the county seat. Later, Forsyth County formed and the county seat of Stokes became Crawford. The name later changed to Danbury. This series has remembered only a small amount of history that Stokes County offers. The county is filled with historical artifacts and family stories. It is up to all of us to find these treasures and preserve them for future generations.

wagon wheel11 (2)

David Rominger(1716-1777) was married in 1741 and living in Broad Bay, Maine. He was assigned Lot number 13 which consisted of 100 acres. His wife died in 1752 and he married a widow with a large family of children. In 1769, David and his son, Phillip, migrated to North Carolina. In 1770, David’s second wife and children joined him in North Carolina where she died that same year. David settled in Bethabara and is buried in Salem Cemetery. David’s brother, Michael(1709-1803), of whom was the oldest of the siblings and was a carpenter by trade. Michael served 3 years as a soldier in the Royal Regiment and left to marry Anna Katharina Anton(1717-1794) on December 26, 1740 in Germany. The family sailed for America and lived in Broad Bay, Maine from 1753 to 1770. In 1770, Michael sold his farm and migrated to North Carolina by way of The Great Wagon Road. The family lived in Friedland and had the following children: Elisabetha-1741, Jacob-1743, Johannes-1745, George-1747, Ludwig, Martin-1752, Catharina-1755, Jacobina, Michael-1759, Christian-1762 and an infant daughter who died. A future blog about this family and their life experiences will be featured here at a later date.

flowers1 (2)

Phillip Rothrock(1713-1803) arrived from Germany on the ship, Pink Mary. The year was 1733. He lived near Yorktown, Pennsylvania with his wife, Catharine Kemtoz(1720-1777). They were married in 1720 at Rothenback, Germany. After the American Revolutionary War, Phillip and his family migrated to North Carolina. The family settled at Friedburg and are shown as farm lot number 120. Phillip had a total  of 9 sons named here. Jacob-1741, Johannes-1744, Phillip Jr.-1746, Peter-1746, George-1748, Valentine-1751, Benjamin-1753, Joseph-1755 and Frederick-1760. Phillip Jr married Elizabeth Weller(1749-1839) in October of 1769. Phillip purchased 1060 acres near Friedburg, NC. He was an active member with the Moravian Church serving as steward in 1791. Phillip Jr. along with two of his brothers, Valentine and Peter, all served in the Continental Army under George Washington. They all returned to Pennsylvania to enlist and serve during the war. All returned to North Carolina when the war ended. Children born to Phillip Jr. and Elizabeth are Jacob-1770, Frederick-1772, Eva-1774, George-1777, Johannes-1779, Joseph-1782, Phillip-1785, Martin-1787, Christian-1790 and Daniel-1794.

cemetery picture

Joseph Scales was born in 1765 and died June 20, 1832. He was the son of John Scales and Lydia McClaren. The family has a fascinating early history in Guilford County, NC. Joseph married Nancy Alley(1777-1820) and both are buried in the family cemetery located in Sandy Ridge. The couple had at least 6 children; Absalom(1798-1859), Sally(1801), Jane(1803-1878), Nathaniel(1806-1827), Joseph(1811-1839) and Andrew(1813-1839).


Present Day Pfaffenhofen

Adam Spach was born January 20, 1720 at Pfaffenhofen in Lower Alsace, Germany. He died August 23, 1801 in Salem, North Carolina. He was married to Maria Elisabeth Hueter on December 17, 1752. Maria was born April 1, 1731 and died October 26, 1799 in North Carolina. In 1754, Adam and Maria traveled the Great Wagon Road to North Carolina and settled near Wachovia, the Moravian settlement. The couple traveled with the Nathaniel Seidel party and left in the month of May. Adam built the rock house, pictured below and raised the following children: Johann Adam(1753-1816), Maria(1756-1777), Rosina(1758-1849), Maria Elisabeth(1760-1846), John(1762-1844), Gottlieb(1764-1814), Anna(1766-1858), Jacob(1768-1856) and Joseph(1771-1820).

Spach House (2)

Adam Spach Rock House

John Tuttle was born in 1761 and died in 1840. His father is Thomas Tuttle and both  enlisted with the NC militia during the year of 1778. In 1782, both Thomas and son John migrated to present day Stokes County. John married Anna Barbara Fry on June 16, 1783. John and Anna Tuttle had the following children: Thomas-1784, Michael-1786, Elizabeth-1788, Mary-1790, Anna-1793, Henry-1795, John-1797, William-1799, Peter-1802, Elijah-1806 and Sarah-1809.

These early settlers of Stokes County were brave pioneers who traveled The Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and other northern areas to reach North Carolina.  These families would travel with others known as a “party”. Preparations would be made prior to the trip such as rations, supplies, etc. Many times, the travelers would not know one another before they headed down the trail. But, upon their arrival in North Carolina, it is now understood that these families were forever bonded together in life. A huge amount of these families would send members of the family back and forth along the road for various reasons. Many left matters unsettled prior to them leaving their homes and many would be sent for encouraging or visiting family members that were left behind.

great wagon road6

The pioneers who traveled here prior to the American Revolutionary War were vulnerable. Carolina was known as a wilderness, a wild frontier. This explains the reasoning behind Adam Spach and his rock house. The homes were made to be secure and guarded the family unit from the wild elements around them. The Cherokee did not welcome the new settlers and were still considered a threat during the mid 18th century. There are many stories and factual data containing information of Cherokee raids upon the early settlers.

rock house


Martin Rock House in Stokes County

These 6 segments have only scratched the surface with Stokes County settlers and early history. The treasures of the past are so vivid all throughout the county and I hope this small series encourages all of you to research more into Stokes County and it’s early inhabitants. As Always, Thank You All So Much for your support of Piedmont Trails. Share your experiences of your journey and most of all, enjoy the trails.








Life In 18th Century North Carolina

Prior to the Revolutionary War

Life in the 18th century was very much different from life as we all know it today. The pioneers who migrated from Pennsylvania down The Great Wagon Road were optimistic and filled with hope. They brought with them important items that pertained to their well-being, their faith and their sentimental values.  While they endured the hard trip, many would face great hardships and losses in the near future. This segment will focus on the settler’s lives and living on the Carolina frontier.


The Yadkin River is pictured above with Pilot Mountain in the foreground. West of the Yadkin River was not very popular during the mid 18th century. So, for many of our ancestors, the Yadkin River was the line between settlements and wilderness. Once the land was chosen by the head of the family, namely, the father, the family began unloading their belongings. Trees would fall in order for a new home to shelter the family and the livestock. Farming would begin almost immediately. 90% of our ancestors were farmers and they farmed in all seasons if weather permitted. The man of the house was expected to provide food and shelter for his family. In order to accomplish this, farming was essential to the way of life for everyone.

The piedmont area of North Carolina was once the hunting and grazing lands of the Cherokee. The land was fertile and plentiful. The pioneers would select huge land tracts and begin improvements. The family unit was vital to the survival of the early settlers.  Everyone in the family had a job to do on a daily basis. It was up to the father of the house to oversee these chores and to make sure they were completed to his fashion.


The wife, or the lady of the house would be responsible for the family garden and herbs. She would also be required to prepare the meals and tend to the smaller children. Clothing would be made by her, also milking the cows and washing the garments as well. The mother would also be required to educate her daughters with the knowledge they would need for their future families. Any possessions she had prior to marriage would belong to her husband until his death. Once the husband died, the wife would inherit 1/3 of his property and could legally own it until she remarried or died.


The children would all wear dresses until they reached the age of 5, give or take a year or two. These little ones were allowed to freely play at their leisure and either the mother or an older sister would tend to their needs daily.  As the children grew older, their responsibilities and their daily routines would change. The boys would go with their father to learn about farming, livestock, hunting and more while the girls would be with their mother to learn of sewing, cooking, gardening, etc.

A sample of a daily chore list:

Baby Elizabeth-age 1 plays with her corn husk doll

George-age 3 follows his older sister, Mary and tries to help

Adam-age 6 gathers wood and cleans the chicken house

Mary-age 10 finishes her sampler, milks the cow, gathers eggs, helps to feed livestock and helps tend to Baby Elizabeth

Christina-age 13 sews linens, pulls weeds in the garden, prepares beans for drying, attends fire at smokehouse.

John-age 15 tending wheat field, attends to livestock, checks on hogs in woods and hunts in the afternoon

Henry-age 17 is harvesting corn from the upper field

Michael-age 19 is with his father clearing new land for a larger corn crop next season

Elizabeth-age 41 is washing clothes, cleaning the home and preparing venison that John brought home the day before

Michael-age 43 is clearing land with his son and begins preparing for a trip to the mill in the morning with a portion of his corn crop-a full day trip

As you can see, one day in the 18th century required a huge amount of work, dedication and responsibility.  The weather played a vital role in the farmer’s life.  The fields could only yield what the weather would allow. Farmers based their success on the success of their crops. Wheat and corn were planted in huge tracts.


Wheat allowed flour to be made and corn allowed cornmeal to be made. The family garden consisted of white beans, chard, pumpkins, scarlet runner beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, carrots, peas, cabbage and lettuce. Herbs were also planted such as horehound, sage, nasturtium, hyssop and winter savory. Many settlers used limewater as a natural pesticide on their plants. Wooden traps were created to entice slugs and snails. They would also carry water to their gardens during dry and hot summers.

corn (2)

Usually, the settler would clear three fields keeping two active and the third one fallowed or unused. This method would allow the field to rest in between planting. Some farmers, however, believed that planting turnips in a fallowed field would restore nutrients back into the land. The turnips allowed food for the livestock or they were traded or sold. The livestock would be butchered in early winter to endure the family through the harsh colder days of winter. These settlers, for the most part, were already adapting to the winters of Carolina much better versus the Pennsylvania’s winters.

man (2)

To the 18th century farmer, there were many obstacles that stood in his way of progress. Sickness could overwhelm the family such as a smallpox outbreak. From the Moravaian diaries, we find that such an epidemic occurred in the piedmont area of Carolina in the spring of 1759. The incubation period was usually 2 weeks and then the person would have a high fever with blisters appearing if they survived the fever. Smallpox was capable of destroying entire communities. Fire was also a huge threat. Lightening strikes were very common and a family could lose all of their possessions in a matter of minutes.

The farmer depended on his neighbors for help with harvesting, building and any large project that he himself, with his family, could not handle alone. Neighboring events would also provide entertainment with music, dancing and the partake of distilled spirits. Local news would be shared with neighbors and friends as well in order to keep up with the latest events.


One of the most important items belonging to the first settlers appears to be their family Bible. Many churches were organized during the mid 18th century, telling us that faith and religion were vital to the pioneers. On the Carolina Frontier, they all were able to freely worship and practice their religion beliefs. Through hard work and being faithful to their religion, the first settlers believed they would all prevail and succeed on the frontier.

Tracing our family heritage not only contains names and dates, it also provides a link to a life that once was filled with details, chores, happiness and heartfelt losses. Thank you so much for your support of Piedmont Trails and join us again on the next blog when we begin to hear shouts of liberty from Carolina patriots and the onset of the Revolutionary War.



Carolina Frontier Settlements

The Importance of March 25, 1752 in North Carolina

North Carolina was considered a frontier in 1752; an unsettled region with vast amounts of land opportunities. As discussed in the previous blog, the Great Wagon Road allowed access to this area and growth occurred quickly. March 25, 1752 was an important date due to the last new year’s day in England and her colonies under the Julian system of chronology. This day was also important to 49 settlers living near the Yadkin River and north of Lord Granville’s boundary. These 49 settlers were issued land grants, the largest amount from Lord Granville’s agents on a single date.

land grants

This segment will concentrate on 15 of these 49 settlers. They are Samuel Blythe, Robert Allison, Thomas Allison, Fergus Graham, James Hill, Henry Huey, Andrew Kerr, William Morrison, Robert Reed, Henry White, Moses White, Benjamin Winsley, Alexander McCulloch and John McCulloch.

Robert and Thomas Allison settled along the waters of Fourth Creek after migrating from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Their houses were two miles apart and were more than likely related, but have no definite proof of this. Read more about Fourth Creek Settlement here.

William Morrison was one of 4 brothers who migrated from Ireland with their father, James Morrison in 1730. William and Hugh Morrison settled in Nantmeal Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania before 1737. William later became a tax collector in 1746 in Colerain, Lancaster County. William Morrison’s brothers, Andrew and James were also living in Lancaster County during the years of 1742-1747 and followed William to North Carolina. William’s 1st tract of land adjoined John McConnell’s property near Davidson’s Creek Settlement. According to Rowan County, NC Deeds, 111, 372; William purchased land along Third Creek where he operated a mill and built his house. William died in 1771 at the age of 67. His brother, Andrew died in 1770 at the age of 52.

James Miller from New Castle County, Delaware settled along Fifth Creek in Rowan County, NC. He owned 560 acres and died prior to October 21, 1761 when his farm was sold at auction.

Samuel and Margaret Blythe had 4 sons and daughters who were baptized at the first Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between the years of 1718 and 1725. Samuel Blythe was living in Lancaster County in 1733. This Samuel Blythe died in 1775 in Cumberland County, PA and his namesake migrated to North Carolina and settled on Sill’s Creek near the property of Felix Kennedy in Rowan County, NC.

Fergis Graham migrated from Chester County and he appears on the tax list of 1737-1738.

James Hill owned 640 acres on the branch of Second Creek. He later sold the property to Henry Schiles in 1754.

James and Henry Huey  lived in Chester County during the years of 1739 and 1740. Robert Huey was living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1737. Henry Huey later arrived in North Carolina and purchased 612 acres on the north bank of Fourth Creek, Rowan County, NC.

Andrew and John Kerr purchased lands four miles from one another along Third Creek, Rowan County, NC. They both migrated from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The Reed family settled in Nottingham township between 1738 and 1743. Robert Reed left Pennsylvania shortly after 1743 and arrived in North Carolina. He obtained a land grant on Marlin’s Creek. He later sold his property and was living in Orange County, NC in 1761.

Henry White, with his wife, Johanna, were living in Rapho Township, Lancaster County, PA when he sold his land on May 22, 1749. He soon left for North Carolina where he obtained his land grant in 1752.

rowan-co-1780-map (1)

James McCulloch with his two sons, John and Alexander, obtained lands between George Davidson and the Catawba River. James McCulloch originated from Fallowfield township, Chester County, PA and settled there in 1739. He left for North Carolina approx. 1747. His will was probated in 1758 and mentioned 4 sons and a grandchild.

Moses White settled along the Davidson’s Creek as well as Benjamin Winsley.

These first settlers traveled mainly from Pennsylvania to reach the lands of North Carolina before the Great Wagon Road was no more than a 4ft. path in many areas. They traveled the route before many inhabitants settled along the trail. In other words, the route they took to arrive in North Carolina was a frontier of wilderness. Once they obtained their land grants, they married, had children and prospered. Ten years later, the Great Wagon Road was referred to as a “road” and no longer a trail or path. The first pioneers paved the way for others to follow their footsteps into the Carolina frontier.

kerr mill

Kerr Mill, Rowan County, NC


From Pennsylvania To New Lands

The Great Wagon Road
Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of a 3 part segment dedicated to “The Great Wagon Road”. This road played a vital part with many of our ancestors traveling southward and westward to new lands and opportunities. The road originally began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and followed The Great Warriors Path which was an Indian trail that many different tribes used. If your ancestor left from Philadelphia, they probably started from 248 Market Street. This was the origin point for most of the mail carriers that began as early as 1750. They would travel 63 miles to reach Conestoga Creek and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


From Lancaster, the road reached York and then Gettysburg. Present day US Highway 30 basically follows the same route that our ancestors used in the 18th century. The changing seasons allowed fair weather or stormy clouds, high rivers or low-lying creek beds. The taverns and inns along the way provided information on what the road had in store for the travelers. These early businesses advertised with signs displaying artwork to demonstrate their services. This was especially helpful to the travelers who were unable to read and write. Some well-known tavern keepers were Casper Fahnestock, Evan Watkins, Thomas Harrison and Valentin Sevier.


From Gettysburg, the wagons headed towards the Potomac River, present day US Highway 11 crosses the river almost exactly where Watkins Ferry crossed in the 18th century. During the years of 1744 through 1770, the ferry was operated from dawn to dusk poling the large boat ferry back and forth across the river. The “boat” grew larger with each year and could easily transport several wagons as well as horses and cattle. When we think of The Great Wagon Road, we must also remember that this road was also used as a route for farmers to get their livestock and goods to market for sale. So, several of our ancestors would be met with huge herds of cattle, sheep, pigs, etc. Many of our ancestors would have a cow attached to the wagon with a rope and it would not be out of the ordinary to find a pig or two as well. Chickens were stored in a pen and transported on the wagon. From Watkins Ferry, the road winds southward to Winchester, Virginia. Present day, Interstate 81 is very close to the original route. To reach Winchester, it would have taken approx. 3 weeks if the weather was fair. Phillip Bush’s Inn was famous and known to all of the travelers that passed through the area. Winchester was a small village and it was founded in 1744.


From Winchester, the route takes present day Interstate 81 and makes its way southward to Harrisonburg with the Shenandoah Mountains to the east. The road becomes very rough in this area during the 1740s up to the 1760s. The terrain is up and down and many travelers became weary due to sickness. Supplies are running out and the weight of their personal possessions are beginning to wear down on the travelers. The lucky ones have horses and could travel much quicker, 20 miles or more a day. Many had handmade carts and many simply walked with their possessions on their backs. This was a very long trip, taking months to complete and the weather, depending on the season, would make traveling much more difficult. When the travelers reached Staunton, Virginia, they all would have been aware of the Indian raids during the 1750s. Staunton was known as the Valley of Virginia and many German and Scottish settlers settled in this area from 1743 through the 1750s. A stone house was built with an underground passage that led to a spring. Many of these first settlers lost their lives during Indian raids. Captain Robert McKenzie visited the area in 1757 and found nothing  of the original settlement except for spears, broken tomahawks and ashes of burnt homes and huts. Indian attacks were frequent along the Wagon Road as it traveled through Virginia and into the Carolinas. Our ancestors often traveled in groups for protection. The Shawnee were very active in this area and the travelers would have been fully aware of this as they traveled through Staunton.

The New River

The above picture shows New River near Fort Chiswell, Virginia. This picture displays the terrain our ancestors were faced with in this area. From Staunton to Fort Chiswell is approx. 144 miles. During this portion of the trip, supplies could be purchased in Big Lick, today known as Roanoke.

cabin in va

After crossing the Roanoke River, travelers could take a new trail westward on the new Wilderness Road, or stay on the The Great Wagon Road into the piedmont area of North Carolina. This marks the end of segment 1 of our 3 part series. The next blog will focus on the entry of North Carolina by our ancestors on this historic route. Below portrays a list of supplies that would have been packed on the wagons.

Food Supplies

200 pounds of flour
30 pounds of pilot bread (hardtack)
75 pounds of bacon
10 pounds of rice
5 pounds of coffee
2 pounds of tea
25 pounds of sugar
½ bushel of dried beans
1 bushel of dried fruit
2 pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
10 pounds of salt
½ bushel of corn meal
½ bushel of corn, parched and ground
1 small keg of vinegar

Water would have been collected along the way and stored in a barrel. All of these items, depending on the quantity, would have been added weight on the wagon or cart. Their personal items may have included tools such as an axe, hatchet, shovel, hammer, animal traps and rope. They would also have household items such as butter churn, butter mold, candles, cooking utensils, dishes, coffee grinder, bedding, clothing, lantern and personal items such as Family Bible, books, doll, rifle and pistol.

wagon (1)


The next segment will cover North Carolina and the piedmont settlement. Please share your comments and your knowledge of The Great Wagon Road.








The Great Wagon Road

Documentation of a 1765 road that brought hundreds of families southward to North Carolina.

What exactly is the “The Great Wagon Road”? It was a migration trail that began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and traveled south through Virginia and ended in Wachovia, North Carolina, present day, Winston-Salem, NC. This was a distance of 455 miles through mountainous terrain and rivers. During the 1760’s, land was readily available in North Carolina through grants. Hundreds of families moved southward to take advantage of the new opportunities available to them in North Carolina. By, 1780, the road extended southward to Georgia and new settlements originated along the road. The trip was hard on the travelers with steep mountain passes and deep rivers, but even in 1765, there were small communities located throughout the road that provided shelter, food and other accommodations.

The trip would have most likely been made by wagon, some by horseback, but all families carrying only the necessary items needed for the new home. Starting in Philadelphia, then to Lancaster where supplies would have probably been purchased for the trip and then on to Harris or present day, Harrisburg. Here, the travelers would have to cross the Susquehanna River then reach York. The road now turns southwest into Virginia. Near Winchester, the travelers entered into the Shenandoah Valley located between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Near Roanoke, Virginia, the road passed through Roanoke River Gap. From here, they traveled southward to the Piedmont region of North Carolina.

Present day Highway 81 follows the similar route from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania through Virginia. Then, Highway 85 picks up the remainder of the route in Petersburg, Virginia into North Carolina.


Adam Kramer 1719-1789 A Memoir

A memoir, by definition, is the historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources. In other words, it’s a memorial in text form acknowledging a person’s life experiences. In researching our ancestor’s past, we may become excited to find a memoir written about them, giving details on how they lived, where, when and with whom. The Moravian’s of Germany were very keen on record keeping, especially during the mid to late 18th century.  At a time when journals and diaries were not common, the followers of the Moravian faith were very careful to preserve their daily entries and memoirs for future generations.

Old Salem, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, founded in 1766, houses the Moravian southern province archives. Many of these documents are written in German, but translation is available for a fee. Read more about the archives here. Several years ago, I found myself at the archive building researching my family and was greatly surprised at the length of details these records contained. In looking through the memoirs index catalog, I located Adam Kramer, my 5th great grandfather. Already knowing that Adam was among the first settlers in Bethania, North Carolina, I was certain that his memoir would contain the same amount of details that I had discovered with my previous researches. To my surprise, only 2 1/2 pages held the biography of Adam Kramer but the details were definitely there.

“In Bethania, the widowed Brother Adam Kramer went home on the 28th of December, 1789. Since he left behind no written accounts of his course through this time, only the following from his oral accounts can be cited: He was born on the 6th of January, 1719 in Ober-Graz in Voigtland and was brought up by his parents in the Lutheran religion.”

Vogtland, Germany, pictured above, a small quaint region located southwest of Saxony. Nothing speaks of his childhood except for performing manual labor. Adam had his eye on a profession and so he learned the tailor’s handicraft. The completion of his apprenticeship allowed him to work in various places and in time he took up service with the nobility. Adam was popular and well-liked. His craft was sought and he progressed quickly. After some time passed, Adam moved to the area of Jena where he became acquainted with the Moravian religion. “He gave up being led by his own righteousness and as a lost sinner, found grace from the Savior.”

Adam arrived in Herrnhaag on the 16th of October, 1744 and joined the Moravian Church. He was not rewarded from his profession as before and he no longer strolled with nobles. This was a completely different world. He thought often of the money he was no longer making and this left him feeling miserable and filled with anguish. He spoke with his Choir Chaplain about his feelings and was comforted in knowing his good works with his fellow brethren would be rewarded through his faith in the Savior. Adam often reflected on this time period and shared it with many throughout his life.

Adam was received into the Moravian Church as a member on the 9th of January, 1746. He worked hard at every task that was given him. On the 13th of August in the same year, he was able to partake of the Holy Communion with the congregation. This was a day he never forgot and proclaimed it later as a special day. From there he serviced the children’s boarding school at Neusalz and in 1748, was asked to go to America. Adam went only as far as Zeist where he was assigned to work again among the children. In 1754, Adam crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Pennsylvania. He worked in Bethlehem with various duties until he was chosen to become part of a group to travel to North Carolina and help create a new settlement, Bethabara.

After arriving in North Carolina in November of 1755, Adam returned to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1758 and married Maria Barbara Eyrich. Together, they traveled back to Bethabara, NC and arrived on the 30th of May, 1759. On the 10th of April, 1760, the couple moved to Bethania, NC to a lot of land that was selected for them by the church. The memoir goes on to state that “the running of the tailor establishment was left to his one surviving son after his wife, Barbara died in 1782.” From his marriage, he lived to see three grandchildren, whom he loved very much and took great care  that they were brought up for the Lord and prospered.

On the 20th of December, 1789, Adam attended church. He left telling everyone “All is well with me”. The following Tuesday, he felt a chill and had to retire to his bed. His illness grew worse and on the 28th of December at approx. 2am. , he died. Adam Kramer was buried at Bethania GOD’s Acre Cemetery.

The names of his children and grandchildren were not mentioned. As a researcher of genealogy, I was greatly disappointed with this but, was amazed at the details the memoir was able to provide about Adam Kramer’s life.


Hans Jacob Matzinger(Abt. 1698-Aft. 1766)

The Voyage

If you have the surname Motsinger in your family tree, chances are you know about the immigrant, Hans Jacob Matzinger. In this blog, I’ll be sharing some facts that you may already know and some facts that just may surprise you. Jacob was born in Marthalen, Switzerland and was baptized in the year of 1698. Jacob married Margaretha Fissler, daughter of Hans Conrad Fissler and continued to live in the area until the year of 1734. Margaretha died in January of 1734 and when autumn arrived, Jacob and his young son, Felix, left the village. It was October of 1734 when Jacob and Felix departed with several other families, including the Goetschy family who were widely known around the region. The history of the Goetschy family dates back to 1315 in Zurich when Henry Goetschy was mayor of the city. A blog about this family will be posted here at a later date. When Jacob and his son were traveling the 300 miles to reach Rotterdam, the citizens of the villages along the way scorned and laughed at them and their fellow travelers. It was crazy, thought by many, to leave your homeland in search of the unknown so late in the season. Jacob reached the Rhine River on October 5, 1734 and boarded a ship with his son. They left Basle and began traveling towards Rotterdam. This phase of the trip, mainly over water, was harsh, cold and filled with rain showers. Families were not allowed to cook on the ships, so when the chance arrived to head ashore, families jumped at the opportunity in order to cook, warm themselves and dry their wet clothing. Small children were often heard crying due to the overwhelming conditions of the weather and the hunger. Some citizens helped the travelers along their journey, either by feeding them or providing them clothing, etc. Goetschy promised the group, that Carolina was the destination and since he was a reformed religious minister, they would surely prosper with their travels and new settlement. When they arrived in Neuwied, 4 couples were married. These were the only couples married on the trip and they are documented as the following: Hans Conrad Wirtz to Anna Goetschy; Conrad Naff to Anna N.; Jacob Rathgeb to Barbara Haller and Conrad Geweiller to unknown. Some researchers have claimed that Jacob married Magdelena Mantz while traveling in 1734. But, I have not found any proof that Jacob ever married again after his wife, Margaretha died in 1734. In fact, I have found proof that Jacob was still single in the year of 1740 in Pennsylvania after donating his labor to the building of a church and school . The early documents listed him as single Jacob Matzinger.(Personal documents obtained from Heidelberg Historical Society, Pennsylvania)

When the group was just outside of Rotterdam, several small children fell overboard, but according to several documents, all were saved. Upon arrival in Rotterdam, they learned that the ships were no longer docked and the trip came to a quick halt until other arrangements could be worked out.  The captain of the ship that brought them to Rotterdam requested the passengers to unload their belongings quickly as he had to return to Basle. So the cargo was unloaded on the bank of the river in one huge heap.(page 102, History of the Goshenhoppen Reformed Charge by William John Hinke) Several months would go by with some of the travelers staying in an inn, others camping outside along the banks of the Rhine and many suffering from sickness and lack of food. It is documented that 2 died during this time and several others left the group to return to their homes. During this time, Goetschy was attempting passage for his weary travelers and was able to connect to Friess in Zurich and arrange for passage upon the ship Mercury to Pennsylvania in order to accommodate several churches in the Great Swamp area. The Mercury set sail in late February of 1735 for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There were several families who were unwilling to change their destination from Carolina to Pennsylvania, but Jacob was not one of them. He and 8 year old Felix boarded the ship to cross the Atlantic. The ship was mastered by Captain William Wilson and arrived in Philadelphia on May 29, 1735. The good weather lasted only 2 days after the ship set sail and for 12 weeks, the ship and it’s passengers endured heavy downpours of rain, wind and high waves. Galley bread was the last of the food near the end of the trip and the only water available was muddy and filled with worms. When they arrived at the Delaware River, the ship was halted for an additional 3 days due to the lack of wind needed to push them onward to Philadelphia. But, as we all know, the Mercury did indeed arrive at port and unloaded it’s passengers and cargo.

This is just a small portion of Jacob Matzinger’s life and experiences. As you can imagine, the trip to the “New World” was quite an adventure in itself. Why did Jacob leave his homeland? Some genealogists have stated that Jacob had at least 3 other sons all of whom died prior to his wife dying in 1734. Could this be the reason why Jacob seeked new surroundings? The total length of time between his departure in October of 1734 and arrival in May of 1735 was 7 months. That is a long time to travel with a young boy of 8. As for me, I’m so glad Jacob decided to take that chance and allowed the family of Matzinger to thrive here in the “New World”.