The County of Germany lies on both sides of the river Rhine. Among its states were Treves, Nassau, Hesse, Kassel, Thuringia, and Wurzburg, Ansback, Upper Palatinate, Wurttemberg, Mainz, Alsace, Lorraine, Baden, Hanau, Darmstadt, and the Palatinate. Its capital was Heidelberg, and its principal cities were Mainz, Speyer, Mannheim and Worms. Its boundaries changed with the shifting fortunes of the diplomacy and war. Situated between the greater and rival powers of France and the German emperor, its soil was the frequent path of armies and field of battle. With Changes of rulers came changes in religious tolerance, each ruler endeavoring to stamp out those opposed to his religion, whether Lutheran, Reformed, or Roman Catholic. The principles of the Reformation had taken almost universal possession of the people.
With each accession to power, a three-way contest among the Roman Catholic Church, Lutherans, and Reformed brought the force of decrees and enactments to convert the people to the ruling faith. Under the rule of John William, a devoted Roman Catholic, the people of the Palatinate suffered in their religious affections and privileges. Hundreds of villages and towns were looted, ravaged and burned to the ground by the Catholic monarch. In addition, the German harvests had been poor and the winter so cold that the birds and beasts froze to death in the forest. Intolerable hardships and cruelties were created, impelling many of the Germans to break off their attachment to the fatherland and to make and seek new homes in distant America.
Queen Anne of England, hearing of the harassed and suffering Palatines, distributed pamphlets inviting the German people to emigrate to her American Colonies. Crossing the English Channel from Rotterdam more than 30,000 left their war-torn homes and took asylum in London. Thirteen thousand camped in the outskirts of London, maintained by the charity of the English people. Many became disillusioned and returned to their homeland; others were transported to Ireland. Some settled throughout the British Isles and Thousands died of starvation and illness.
On Christmas Day 1709, 4,000 Palatines embarked on ten ships destined for New York; Among them Balthaser Loesch and Johan Jost Braun and families. They were detained on board the vessels until Easter 1710, awaiting convoys to protect them against the French men of war. Heavy storms and contrary winds further delayed the arrival in America. Conditions aboard were crowded almost to the point of suffocation. Insufficient food and water and unsanitary conditions made them easy prey of disease. Seventeen hundred of these 4,000 emigrants died before arrival at their destination in June 1710.
They disembarked at Nutting, now Governor’s island and lived in tents until November when Governor Hunter had 1,400 transferred 100 miles up the Hudson River to Livingston Manor they were divided into two groups. The Situated on the east side of the Hudson River was called the East Camp and those on the other side the west Camp. At these camps they were to repay the government of Queen Anne for their passage by manufacturing tar and hemp for Her Majesty’s navy. The plan proved fruitless due to the lack of resources, improper administration, and ill treatment of the émigrés. The Palatines soon became dissatisfied with their treatment and with their situation and decided to look elsewhere.
In the late autumn of 1712, 150 families moved to the Schoharie Valley, sixty miles to the northwest of their former estate. They had no open road and no horses to carry or haul their belongings. Their meager possessions they loaded on rudely constructed sleds which they pulled themselves, through three feet of snow and through unbroken forest. It took them three full weeks to reach their destination.
Upon reaching Schoharie, they settled into a normal frontier life upon the lands Queen Anne had granted them. For ten years, they cultivated the soil and made additional improvements only to learn that the titles granted them were not valid, due to imperfections in the land contracts and the sharp practice of some of the Governor’s agents. A legal Battle ensued for seven years with the British Courts ruling in favor of Governor Hunter. The Palatines were made to move. It is impossible to realize the disappointment, bitterness, heartaches and feeling of despair after all these setbacks. Some settled in the Mohawk Valley. Others received word of unoccupied lands on the Swatara and Tulpehocken in Pennsylvania.
One day in April 1723, thirty-three families left the Schoharie Valley in search of a better life in William Penn’s woodlands. They wended their way in a southwesterly direction, guided by the Indians, until they reached the Susquehanna River. Here they constructed canoes, freighted them with the families, and floated down the river. Their cattle they drove by land. Arriving at the mouth of the Swatara Creek (where present day Middletown is located), they worked their way up the creek until they reached the Tulpehocken Valley, then Chester County (Lancaster County Organized in 1729), Pennsylvania, where they staked out claims and settled among the Indians. News traveled back to New York about the fertile land and abundant game, and a second group, among them the celebrated Conrad Weiser, arrived in 1728-1729. Johan Philip Braun, born 1693 (son of Johan Jost Braun) and his wife Elisabeth Magdalena Loesch, born ca. 1700 (daughter of Balthaser Loesch) arrived after may 1723 but before January 10, 1725.
The Philip Brown Family of Tulpehocken Valley, by Shirley M. Brown, 1995, Olde Springfield Shoppe, 10 West Main Street, P.O. Box 171, Elverson, PA 19520-0171
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