The German And Swiss Migration
In 1600 the population of the English colonies on the continent of North America was only two hundred thousand; fifty years later it had increased to a million, and by 1760 another half million had been added. In part this was due to natural increase, but a large population came from the influx of Europeans other than English, the two principal immigrant peoples being the Germans and the Scotch-Irish.
The German migration.—The causes of the German migration are to be found in the disturbed condition of Germany. Religious persecution, political oppression, and economic distress caused by wars and bad seasons, each played its part in the movement. Most of the immigrants came from southwestern Germany, especially from the Palatinate, Württemberg, and Baden, and from Switzerland. The first period of migration, dating from 1683 to 1710, was characterized by a small movement of persecuted sects; but after 1710 an ever-increasing migration took place in which the religious, political, and economic causes blended.
Principal Areas of German Settlement before 1763.
The early migration to Pennsylvania.—The first German settlement in the English colonies may be traced directly to William Penn's visit to the Rhineland in 1677. A group of pietists from Frankfort-on-the-Main purchased fifteen thousand acres of Penn's land and in 1683 sent over a young lawyer, Francis Daniel Pastorius, as advance agent, who became the recognized leader of the Pennsylvania Germans. He was soon followed by a considerable number of emigrants. More land was purchased and the settlement of Germantown begun. In 1684 a group of Labadists settled on the Bohemian River in the present state of Delaware. Every year a few people joined the original group at Germantown. The most important addition was in 1694 when forty Rosicrucians under John Kelpius settled on the banks of the Wissahickon.
The migration to New York.—Not until 1710 did the great flood of migration begin. In 1707 a portion of the Palatinate was devastated. The following year sixty-one homeless people led by Joshua von Kocherthal made their way to London. The Board of Trade sent them to New York, where Governor Lovelace gave them lands on the Hudson, where they began the town of Newburg. Religious persecution, political oppression, the devastation of Württemberg and a part of the Palatinate, and a hard winter caused a great exodus in 1709. In May of that year the Germans began to arrive in London, and by October the numbers had swelled to thirteen thousand. About thirty-five hundred were sent to the colonies. Six hundred and fifty were settled at Newbern near the mouth of the Neuse River in North Carolina, and about three thousand were sent to New York, where Governor Hunter hoped to settle them on lands where tar and pitch could be produced. The story goes that in London the Palatines had met a delegation of Indian chiefs who had promised them lands on the Schoharie, a branch of the Mohawk. Instead of being sent there, however, many were placed on lands along both sides of the Hudson near Saugerties. The colony on the west side was called West Camp, and contained about six hundred people. The East Camp, which was located on the manor of Robert Livingston, received nearly twelve hundred; it was here that difficulties occurred. The attempts to produce tar and pitch failed, and the colonists demanded that they be moved to the Schoharie. After much bickering with the governor, in 1712 and 1713 many of the people from East Camp moved to the Schoharie; but their troubles did not end, for the question of land title brought them into disputes with certain landowners from Albany. Some of the Palatines moved again, many taking up lands in the Mohawk Valley between Ft. Hunter and Frankfort, while others in 1723 and 1727 migrated to Pennsylvania, settling in Berks County.
The later Pennsylvania migration.—The harsh treatment in New York and the kind reception of Germans in Pennsylvania made the Quaker colony a favorite place for their coming. Between 1710 and 1727 from fifteen to twenty thousand entered Pennsylvania and settled in Lancaster, Berks, and Montgomery counties. Between 1727 and 1740 the arrivals numbered about fifty-seven thousand, and between 1741 and 1756 about twenty thousand. Many of the newcomers settled in Philadelphia, and neighboring counties, but the desire for cheap land carried a large number into the fertile valleys of the Susquehanna, Lehigh, and Shenandoah. In the words of Professor Faust, "They ... pushed northward and westward to Lehigh, Northampton, and Monroe counties, and to Lebanon and Dauphin; reaching the Susquehanna they crossed and settled the counties of York, Cumberland, and Adams, then following the slopes of the mountains they went southward through Maryland into Virginia, ascending the Shenandoah Valley and settling it from Harpers Ferry to Lexington, Virginia. Using this main avenue for their progress, they settled in North Carolina and Virginia and later in Kentucky and Tennessee. Pennsylvania, therefore, was the distributing center for the German immigrations, whence German settlers spread over all the neighboring provinces."
New Jersey.—As early as 1707 several members of the German Reformed Church appear to have settled in Morris County, and later spread into Somerset, Bergen, and Essex counties. Later groups, mainly of Lutherans or German Reformed, settled in Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties, and there were scattered settlements elsewhere.
Maryland.—A few Germans came to Maryland before 1730, but with the founding of Baltimore in that year a considerable German migration began, enterprising Germans from Pennsylvania finding the new town a place for their capital and energy. At about the same time the Germans were settling in western Maryland. In 1729 Germans from Pennsylvania settled about ten miles north of the modern town of Frederick, and soon many German settlements dotted Frederick and neighboring counties.
Virginia.—The first Germans in Virginia were skilled iron-workers from Westphalia, brought in by Governor Spotswood to operate his iron works which were located on the Piedmont Plateau at Germanna, in modern Orange County. The settlers at Germanna afterward migrated to Germantown near the Rappahannock and to Madison County. A far more important movement was the migration into the Shenandoah Valley. The northern part was settled almost entirely by Germans, but in the southern part they formed only a small part of the population. The first of the settlers came from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1726 or 1727, settling near Elkton. They were soon followed by others, among them Joist Hite at the head of sixteen families from York, Pennsylvania, who settled at the site of Winchester. In 1734 Robert Harper founded Harper's Ferry. The most remote settlements were located in the Alleghanies within the present state of West Virginia; one on Patterson's Creek, another on the south branch of the Potomac, and a third on the New River, which with the Greenbrier forms the Great Kanawha. Thus the frontier had already reached the "Western Waters."
North Carolina.—As already noted, the first migration of Germans into North Carolina was connected with the Palatine movement of 1710; the lands of Baron Graffenried on which they settled being at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. In the following year the Tuscaroras went on the warpath; about sixty of the newcomers were slain and their settlement destroyed. The Tuscaroras eventually were incorporated with the Iroquois Confederation and the settlers took advantage of the removal to occupy their lands, soon spreading over a large part of what is now Craven County. About 1745. Germans from Pennsylvania began to arrive in the western part of North Carolina, taking up lands along the Yadkin River. Not until 1750 did the immigrants become numerous. By the time of the Revolution there were important German settlements in Stokes, Forsyth, Guilford, Davidson, Rowan, and Cabarrus counties.
South Carolina.—In South Carolina the first German colonists settled in or near Charleston. In 1732 a settlement was made in Beaufort County and German villages soon dotted both sides of the Edisto and Congaree Rivers in Orangeburg and Lexington counties and spread out toward the Georgia boundary, Baden, Württemberg, Switzerland, and discontents from Maine furnishing most of the South Carolina Germans.
Swiss migration to Carolina and Pennsylvania.—With the exception of Graffenried's project, no large enterprise for bringing Swiss settlers to America was launched until 1725, when Jean Purry of Neufchatel began to advertise for Swiss Protestants to found a colony in Carolina. In 1732 Purry succeeded in establishing Purrysburgh, which soon had several hundred inhabitants. Crop failures in Switzerland coupled with heavy taxation and a dislike for foreign military service caused a large number to migrate between 1730 and 1750. Although accurate statistics are lacking, recent investigation shows that during the eighteenth century probably twenty-five thousand Swiss emigrated to Pennsylvania and the Carolinas.
Georgia.—In 1731 thirty thousand Protestants of Salzburg were exiled. Some of them made their way to England and eventually became settlers in the newly-constituted colony of Georgia. The first ones arrived at Savannah in 1734 and moved to lands on the Savannah River about forty miles from its mouth, naming their settlement Ebenezer. Others soon followed. Oglethorpe wished some of them to settle about the fort on St. Simon Island, but they objected to bearing arms and were allowed to go to Ebenezer. Others, who had no religious scruples regarding war, were settled at Frederica. The settlers from Ebenezer soon moved down the river eight miles to New Ebenezer, across the river from Purrysburgh. By 1741 over twelve hundred Germans had come to Georgia.
New England and Nova Scotia.—A small number of Germans made their way to New England. The head of the movement was Samuel Waldo, who became interested in lands on the shores of Broad Bay in Maine. In 1740 forty families from Brunswick and Saxony founded Waldoborough. In 1749-1750 Massachusetts made an effort to increase German immigration by setting aside lands for their use. One of these districts was near Fort Massachusetts in modern Franklin County and extended beyond into what is now Vermont. Three years later the first German settlers entered the region. In 1751 Joseph Crellius brought over twenty or thirty families who founded Frankfort, subsequently called Dresden, on the Kennebec River. It has been estimated that fifteen hundred Germans entered New England in 1752-1753, but many of them moved subsequently to South Carolina. Another group settled at Braintree near Boston, but by 1760 they had all moved to the Maine settlements. During 1750-1753 occurred a considerable German migration to Nova Scotia, sixteen hundred settling in Lunenburg County. In the latter year the English Government checked the movement, which was deflected to New England, and the settlements at Broad Bay and on the Kennebec were considerably enlarged.
Next: The Scotch-irish
Previous: The Founding Of Georgia