Edenkoben, Germany is known for its wine festivals. You can also hike along forested mountain trails, visit the ruins of ancient castles, and enjoy sunny days exploring medieval towns. It is located in Europe’s largest forest, The Palatinate Forest. In fact, Bavaria’s King Ludwig I, liked it so much that he built his summer castle, Schloss Ludwigshöhe, on the slopes overlooking Edenkoben, which he called "the most beautiful square mile of my realm."
So what does this have to do with our family tree on my dad’s side? Well, believe it or not, family members (I know I was surprised) we have German Ancestors! We also have an immigration story!
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In the 18th century, those living in Edenkoben and the surrounding region, were serfs or peasants. To be released from their serfdom, they were required to pay a fee, usually 10% of their property. Serfs who were too poor to pay the fee, were sometimes granted emancipation anyway. This is the case for our ancestor Carl Schenckel. "For the same year, 1752, a great emigration year, Philip Carl Schenkel (and another) of Edenkoben went as emigrants to North America, all manumitted gratis (without charge) on account of their poverty." *
Carl Schenckel (35), his wife Maria Elisabetha (35) heard reports about lots of cheap land and religious freedom in America. They talked with others in their community and a large group of them decided to make the long journey to America. Likely in the Spring of 1752, they packed their belongings, gathered their 2 children, Phillip Jacob (5) and Maria Elisabetha (1), and along with 28 other families, they left Edenkoben.
Why did so many people choose to leave such a beautiful place? Probably for several reasons:
- Multiple wars with the French
- Bad weather and crop failures
- Minor religious persecution by the Catholics
- Disease and sickness (plague, small pox)
Feudal lords owned the land and ruled the principalities through which the Rhine River flows. They took advantage of travelers going down the river by charging tolls for passage through the lord's principalities. The journey down the Rhine could take six weeks because of all the stops and delays.
The second part of the journey led from Rotterdam to one of the English ports. In England a delay of one to two weeks might be necessary while the ships waited to be passed through the custom house with another possible long wait for favorable winds.
The third part of the journey, the transatlantic voyage, brought much suffering and hardship.
"The real misery begins with the long voyage. The passengers being packed densely, like herrings, without proper food and water, were soon subject to all sorts of diseases, such as dysentery, scurvy, typhoid and smallpox. Children were the first to be attacked and died in large numbers." **
The duration of the voyage depended on the wind and weather. Lack of wind, or storms in the Atlantic, could make a voyage take up to twelve weeks, adding greatly to the misery of the passengers. Under ideal conditions, arrival at the destination could take as few as seven weeks." ***
|A Navy Snow (same type of ship as the Ketty)|
In 1752, the Schenckel family traveled down the Rhine River to Rotterdam where they boarded the Ketty.
It stopped at Portsmouth, England before landing at Philadelphia on October 16th. There is no mention of how they paid for their voyage. But since they were so poor, were they required to work off their fare? Were they indentured servants for a time? The family settled in Heidelberg Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where they had three more children.
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The Skinkle Genealogy, comprising the descendants of Phillip Carl Schenckel, 1717-1897. By Louisa J Abbott and Charles L Abbott, published 1897.
* Ship Passenger Lists. Pennsylvania and Delaware (1641-1825). A chapter titled, "18th Century Emigrants from Edenkoben in the Palatinate", pp. 187-189:
**Gottlieb Mittelberger, Journey to Pennsylvania in the year 1750
***Shaking The Branches, Genealogical History of the Bolender & Shinkle Ancestry of K. Merrill Bolender Indianapolis, Indiana http://www.oocities.org/mbolender.geo/intro.htm