From Blankenloch to America
Life in these early times was certainly hard by the standards of today. Most families lived off the land. Those who were more fortunate had positions within the then realm of the government. Others were entrepreneurs of various kinds. As far back as I can go at the present time, without many connections in Germany, I find our particular family originating in Switzerland. They were land owners and eked out a fair living. From the Sur area of Kanton, Switzerland the Lehmann family moved to the Principality of Baden-Durlach (located in the south central part of now Germany only about 75 miles northeast of Karlsrue). This region was also called the Palatine area. Church records in this area go back to 1669. Up to 1810 the individual parishes were responsible for genealogical data after that, local libraries were established and they began recording.
In the 16th century the Reformation brought religious unrest and conflict that lasted for more than 100 years. At the death of Margrave Christopher I in 1527 the duchy was divided between his sons to form Baden-Durlach in the north and Baden-Baden in the south.
In the 17th century the area of Baden became one of the principal battlegrounds for the Thirty years’ War. It was estimated that by 1653 Baden-Durlach lost more than three quarters of its population.
1771 the Baden-Baden family line of the family died out, so Charles Frederick
was able to reunite all of Baden. By
the mid 18th century Margrave Charles Frederick of Baden-Durlach was able to
reconsolidate the areas of Baden-Baden and Baden-Durlach and was able to rule
for about 65 years (1746-1811).
In the early part of the Lehmann family history we have families leaving their homeland for the Americas. One of the reasons I have found, but not necessarily THE one for this branch of the family was because of the influx of migrants to certain areas of Germany for the hopes of a better living that became over populated there just wasn’t enough work and food available to support such a migration. The then, Queen of England, sent out a proclamation asking for families to relocate in the Americas. Passage would be paid for by England for the indenture of their services for a term of not less than 7 years. At which time, each family would be given approximately 40 acres of land and free citizens of the new world. Many impoverished families that couldn’t afford much grabbed at this chance and so traveled from their homeland up the Rhine River to Amsterdam or Rotterdam where they boarded ships to England and eventually to America. Once here, many of them worked in what was called “pitch” pits which was supplied to England for shipbuilding. However, once their term of indenture was finished, they did not receive their promised 40 acres of land, but they were free and could begin anew.
Another reason I found was that there were many religious wars going on all over Europe and many families were losing their husbands and children to the demand of their King for enlistment into his armies. According to a German genealogist, it is known that this particular branch of the family were Lutherans. Count Karl II passed an act in the County Baden-Durlach on June 1, 1556, where he introduced the reformation of Luther. Many chose not to be part of this, so asked for permission to leave their homeland for the Americas.
Our particular branch of the Lehman family, as far as I can tell, were neither impoverished nor did they partake in the call for enlistment. Our family had property, wealth, and was in good standing with the monarchy. It is known that even some of our early family members were employed by the court. Many others were magistrates and held other positions of importance within their own communities. It is further known that our branch of the Lehmann family owned an Inn or Gesthaus as it was called. Being somewhat of an influential family during the mid 1700’s and holding court affiliation, they petitioned the monarchy for permission to leave the country for the Americas. When permission was granted in 1750 it took them nearly a year to settle with family and friends, dispose of their property and make provisions for passage. Passage at that time, took more than a month providing weather cooperated and traveling with four small children as our Hans Jacob and his wife did, certainly must have been trying.