Sunday, June 26, 2005

Before there was Lititz......

The First Settlers
The first settlers to northern Lancaster County included Jacob Huber, George Kline, Valentine Becker, Rev. Henry Landis, Christian Eby, Nicolaus Erb, Abraham Huber, Ulrich Huber, Martin Kundig, John Snavely, Michael Kline, Henry Stiegel, among others.

For the most part this was a German population, that aligned themselves with the Anabaptists, Mennonites, Amish and others. They got caught up in the aftermath of the 30 year war in Europe. Many of them did not go along with the beliefs held by the Lutherans and Catholics. This group of Germans held to the teaching of one baptism. They did not agree with the ritual of the infant baptism, only the baptism after an individual makes a conscience choice to accept Christ as his own personal Saviour.

These dissenters were a peaceful group that did not fight back. For this difference in religious practices, this group of people were imprisoned, property, taken away from them, burnt at the stake, beheaded or dragged through the streets until dead. They started a movement in the early 1700's to migrate up the Rhine River to Rotterdam in Holland. The early immigrants that settled in the Holland region supported their persecuted brothers by sending them money so they could survive. This region was tolerant of their religious beliefs, but they could only accept so many people.

The Invitation to Pennsylvania
When William Penn was trying to establish Pennsylvania, he wanted to bring in a culture that was stable and industrious. He knew there was a group of law-biding, hardworking, religious people that was being uprooted from their home land in the Palatinate. He advertised in the Palatinate that he had land available to everyone regardless on religious belief and they could live in peace and still practice their religion.

The early immigrants in Holland saw this as an opportunity to send the uprooted brothers to the Colonies to begin the process of resettling and establishing a new home. The Holland Church helped to fund the immigration of the displaced brothers from Europe to Pennsylvania.

Twenty nine Palatine Mennonists traveled to Pennsylvania in 1710 to find land to settle. Members of this party included Herr, Kendig, Meili, Muller, and Oberholtzer. They eventually made it the Willow Street region, located a few miles south of current day Lancaster City. They bought 10,000 acres of ground from William Penn. Then in 1716, Martin Kendig returned to the Palatinate region to begin the process of bringing the family and the church to this land.

The Trip Overseas
The typical arrangement for traveling to the Colonies was to agree to become an indentured servant for 7 years in exchange for the cost of the trip overseas. Most of the persecuted brethren that arrived in Holland during the 1710 to 1740 time period were sick, destitute, with only the clothes on their backs for their possessions. It is estimated that 50,000 individuals started the trek out of the Palatinate during this period of persecution. A percentage of them died enroute to Holland.

The trip across the ocean was very uncertain. Some of the boats ended up at ports other than the one intended. Some ships reportedly made port as far north as New England and as far south as South Carolina. The passengers disembarked and had to walk to their new home in Pennsylvania.

The ships carried provisions for a 6 week trip. However, if the weather was not favorable, trips were known to take as long as 6 months. It is estimated that 25,000 people died while enroute to the Colonies.

By the time these travelers arrived to the land that would become their new home, they were so weak and sick that the early settlers already living in the region had to care for them until their strength was recovered.

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