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The Immigrant Life of the Wettstein Family In Switzerland
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
FAMILY WETZSTEIN ORIGINS IN THE BLACK FOREST
Germany's Black Forest (Schwarzwald) evokes images of a densely forested region with tasty Bavarian cuisine, the music of mountain horns and artisticly carves clocks and music boxes, brightly colored folk costumes and gingerbread laden wood-carved houses nestled in verdant, flower covered mountain valleys. Where is the Black Forest?
The Black Forest (German Schwarzwald), is a wooded mountain region in southwestern Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The region is about about 100 miles long, varying in width from about about 14 miles in the north to 38 miles in the south, and occupying an area of about 2,000 square miles. Its name refers to the heavy stands of fir on the upper slopes. The low mountains making up the Black Forest region, push against the borders of Switzerland and France up along the Rhine River which separates Germany from France Alsace. Numerous rivers, including the Danube and the Neckar, rise in the Black Forest. On its eastern slope are many lakes. Mineral springs abound, and the region is known for its health resorts such as Baden-Baden.
It is in the region of the Black Forest at Baden, that we learn that the American Whetstone family name was originally spelled "Wetzstein," when they lived life in the German Palatinate. Pennsylvania German family names may be divided into three classes: first, those derived from personal names; second, those derived from occupation; and third, those derived from the place where the individual lived (including house signs) or whence he came." "The word "stein," originally meant a rock or stone." Wetz was a German village, and the rock or stone was perhaps a marker. In time, "stein" came to speak of a cup, as stoneware was made into eating and drinking vessels.
My father, Galen Hunt, told me that our German ancestors, among whom were the "Wetzstein/Wettstein/Whetstone" family, fled during time of severe persecution, up as well as down the Rhine River, depending on the location of their villages, and the closest neighboring countries providing safety and refuge, from the terrible wars.
Viewing the map of France, you can see how those fleeing France could make their way to the Rhine with perhaps a short stay in Mannheim, Germany, another city open to various Protestant sects, and on to Amsterdam and a short boat ride to London, a city of refuge for the Huguenots and Walloons, even providing them a church on Threadneedle Street in the Middlesex area of London
The Whetstone/Wetzstein family fled the German Palatinates, due to severe persecution. In 1622, at the diet of thirteen cantons, all Jews except for physicians were expelled from all of Switzerland except two villages in the Aargau canton. Aargau, which had a large Jewish population, did not join the Swiss Confederation until 1803 hence they were exempt from requiring the expulsions. A second plausible origin for the Wetzstein name origin is the region of the Wetterstein Alps, where very small portions of the outer limestone (or calcareous) Alps extend from Austria into Germany. From west to east these are the Allgauer Alps, the Wetterstein Alps-with Germany's highest mountain
WARS & HARDSHIPS IN THE RHINELAND PALATINATE PRIOR TO EMIGRATION
The Palatinate (German Pfalz or Rheinland-Pfaltz) is a name given to a district of Germany, a province of Bavaria, located west of the magnificent Rhine River. With it's boundaries to the north, the Prussian Rhine Province and the Hessian Province of Rhen Hessen, the west by Baden, from which it is separated by the Rhine, on the south by Alsace-Lorraine, and the west by Trier and Coblenz, which belong to the Prussian Rhine Province, the Palatine was a fertile grape growing and farming region.
JORG Wetzstein was born in 1674, in Sigmaringen, Wurttemburg, Germany. The area of the district was owned by several different states historically. Before 1800 it was split between many minor rulers, then it became the border area between the Baden and Wurttemberg, and embedded in between was the duchy Sigmaringen. The 30 Years War which was fought between 1618 and 1648, left the country severely impoverished. Although the war officially "ended" in 1648, the repressive effects endured for century. By 1621 to 1648 there was no ruler; many places in the Electoral Palatinate were so badly destroyed by the plundering armies of Austria, Bavaria, France, Lorraine, Spain, and Sweden that they had to be totally rebuilt. The persecution reduced the population of the Palatinate from some half-million to fewer than fifty thousand. By the early 1700s, the Palatine Germans had endured far too much poverty, sickness, starvation, freezing, and being caught in the middle between the warring French and German troops.
The winter of 1709-1710 was devastating in Germany. Their fruit trees froze. On 10 January 1709 the Rhine River froze and was closed for five weeks. Wine froze into ice. Grapevines died. Cattle died in their sheds. It was said that the birds froze on the wing. French soldiers marauded in the Palatinate and Rhine Valley. German aristocracy tried to compete with the courts of France and levied impossible taxes on peasants and small farmers. They packed for the journey on the Rhine to cities from which they could embark on the trip to America, or some likely country to start a new life. Many of the Palatines traveled down the Rhine to Rotterdam in late February and March of the year.
Sigmaringen, Germany where Peter Whetstein was born, exists today as a city in southern Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, at the upper Danube, formerly Hohenzollern, capital of the Sigmaringen district.
The deer in the coat of arms is the symbol of the duchy of Sigmaringen as well as of the city of Sigmaringen. This symbol probably from the Counts of Peutengau-Hirschberg who were the Lords of Sigmaringen until 1253. Hirsch is German for deer. The red color with the white bar below the deer derives from the Austrian coat of arms, as part of district belonged there historically. My family has special affinity for this remarkable emblem for it's mention in scripture as Aiyeleth Shahar, the Hind of the Morning, spoken of in the Psalm 22, as a symbol of Messiah.
There were three general streams of immigration from Germany to Pennsylvania between 1683 and 1775. The first, in 1683, led to the founding of Germantown and the colonization by Swiss Mennonites in 1710; the second from 1710 to 1727, when official statistics began to be published; the third period extended to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, when all immigration ceased for an extended period of time. The emigration of the real Palatines belongs particularly to the third period.
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ON EARTH:
The Pietists or Brethren as they preferred to call themselves, hungered---they thirsted for the manifestation of the Kingdom of God to come "in earth" as it is in heaven." Many from Europe and the United Kingdom, came into apostolic doctrine, through such reformation groups as the French Camisards. The Quaker denomination also possessed an understanding in the early years, of water baptism in Jesus name. Between the years of 650-1690, there was rapid expansion among the Quakers, spreading across the entire world. Quakers were persecuted with fervor, and commanded to stop meeting together. Those of their religious community suffered greatly for the cause of truth.
Quakers have been referred to as "filled with dynamism," and by the thousands they were persecuted with whippings, beatings, imprisoned in dark, dank cells, many dying in prison, and with one woman in Boston, was hanged. Women and children were tied to carts, and whipped as the carts were driven through town. So severe were these beatings, that some prisoners were reported to have received over 600 lashes. Those with apostolic and Pentecostal backgrounds, were returned to England aboard rat infested ships/. But for 40 years they were a "religious storm." What is recorded in school books, is the puritan side of the story. Yet there is a story largely untold, of apostolic believers who came to America by the thousands, and wrote tracts and books, teaching and preaching the gospel faithfully. The old adage is "The Pen is mightier than the sword." This was certainly true of Will Penn. Quakers wrote 25,000 pages in the 13 years following 1652. William Penn was born on Tower Hill, London, 14th October 1644. His father was Sir William Penn, an admiral who had fought with distinction the fleets of Holland and Spain. His mother was a Dutchwoman, the daughter of a rich Rotterdam merchant. When young William became converted to Christ, his Admiral father sent him to France, hoping that he would lose his Puritan beliefs. He returned to study law in London and in 1666 went to Ireland where he managed his father's estates in Cork. While in Ireland he attended Quaker meetings and this led to his arrest and imprisonment.
Penn moved back to England and was soon in trouble for writing "Sandy Foundation Shaken." This attack on the Anglican Church resulted in him being imprisoned in the Tower of London.
THE PROPHET'S MANTLE
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19 Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. (Deuteronomy 18:18)
Peter quoted from this verse in the message he gave after he and the Apostle John had healed the lame beggar at the gate of Solomon's Temple Portico. In applying this word to Jesus, he adds the admonition, "You must listen to whatever he tells you."
Acts 3:22 Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people1 a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. 23 And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out of the people.'
The Reformers George Fox, and William Penn, formed a ministry team and traveled and preached, ministering in the power of the Spirit. Fox believed that there was a key of David that opened and shut doors, spiritually speaking. He taught the Quakers to seek the Lord Jesus Christ in his ministry before his crucifixion, burial and resurrection, and to live their lives in Christ's through the power of His resurrection life, seeing themselves as joint heirs, seated in heavenly places. Where Christ sits at the right hand of God, for He is our Living Bread and the Head of over Church.
ol 3:1 ¶ If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Col 3:3 For ye are, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Col 3:4 When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Col 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Col 3:6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
Col 3:7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
In 1647, while traveling from village to village, George Fox came across an old prophet who lay dying. The elderly man, who we only know by the name of Brown, asked to speak with Fox and prophesied many wonderful things concerning his future. When Brown passed away, a great mantle of anointing came on Fox and for two weeks people came from everywhere to hear Fox minister. His prophetic anointing had come into full operation as he saw into the personal lives of his listeners.
The doctrine of water baptism generated much persecution, with adversaries building special "dunking chairs," with which to punish people with whose views they differed, by holding them under water till many drowned. William Penn, when still a young man, hungered to know God, and his thirst for God's living water, and the bread of life, brought him into fellowship with those who possessed this understanding of water baptism in Jesus name. He believed this doctrine so strongly, that he was ready to die for it! He found himself imprisoned in the Tower of London for denying the trinity. He'd repeated Fox's claim that the term "trinity" was not in the bible. In order to be released, Penn had to prove that he did not deny the deity of Christ, which he successfully did, with his book "No Cross, No Crown."
Prior to immigrating to America, Will Penn traveled, preaching in Holland and Germany. In 1681, Penn and 11 other men bought East Jersey. He had persuaded Charles II to settle an old debt owed his father, by granting him land in America, in 1661, in what was to become Pennsylvania. Penn was also granted the territory which became Delaware. On October 27, 1682, William Penn and his party of100 Quaker settlers sailed up the Delaware on the ship "Welcome," disembarking at the little settlement of Upland.
In the first two years following Penn's arrival in America, 3000 more colonists arrived. Many settled the area around Germantown, near Philadelphia, PA. Most settled in what is now Lancaster County, where the limestone quarries were similar to those in Europe.
Penn wrote numerous books and articles, including "Errors Against the Trinity, and a pamphlet etitled, " A Sandy Foundation Shaken," He was nearly arrested in 1690, when he made his appearance at the funeral service of George Fox, a man who spent many years in prison for opposing views of the Anglican church. His followers called themselves "The Children of Light." Penn's last years were filled with trials. He was deprived of his position as governor of Pennsylvania. In London he lived in poverty. Will Penn died at Ruscombe in Berkshire, and is buried in the Quaker Graveyard at Jordan.
We can clearly see the providence of God was at work in our ancestors lives. Jorg/Joerg Wetzstein was born 1674 in Germany, just 7 years or so before William Penn received a royal charter for land in what came to be known as Pennsylvania. Jorg Wetzstein/Wettstein died in Funkstown, Maryland.
He was the son of Heinrich Wetzstein, born: 1650 in Germany and Barbara Shaver, born:1655 in Germany. Joerg Wetzstein died in Funkstown, Maryland. He Wetzstein married Anna Catharina Dilli/Dilles on 5 Oct. 1692, in Mosbach, Baden, Germany. Anna Catharina was the daughter of Stephan Dilli
Sontheim, Offenburg, Baden, Germany and Christine Rapp, and she was born in Evangelisch Mosbach, Baden, Germany. Stephen Dilli married Christina Rapp 5 April 1619
Kehl, Offenburg, Baden, Germany.
The couple had 3 children:
- Peter WetzsteinBorn: 1 Feb. 1706, Sigmaringen, Germany.
Aboard Ship: The Samuel, with wife Elizabeth and 6 year old daughter Magratha.
Died: 1778 in Funkstown, Maryland
Marriage#1-Anna Elizabeth Kurtz-1720
Married: Grotzingen, Germany-The Palatine-
Anna Elizabeth Kurtz was the daughter of Christian Kurtz
Died: Philadelphia, PA
Wife#2 Anna Ursula Heilig born: 1714 in Sigmaringen, Wurttemburg, Germany. Daughter of George Heilig
Married: 1735 in Philadelphia, PA
Died: Frederick Co., Maryland USA
- Balthazer Wetzstein Born: Est. 1685-1725
Died: Est. 1698-1804
- Abraham Wetzstein Born: 1750, Harrisburg, PA
Died: Fayette Co., Ohio
Married: Maria Catherine Brach
THE WETZSTEIN/WETTSTEIN/WHETSTONE FAMILY SURNAME
Some who have wanted to research the family tree have found themselves frustrated in locating the ancestors prior to coming to America where the Americanized spelling of Whetstone was taken. The Swiss spelling of the German surname Wetzstein, is "Wettstein." One of the earliest records of the Wetzstein family in Switzerland is that of Hans Wettstein born 1590 in Illnau Parish, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland. As you research this family traveled enroute to America, you will discover that in the historical and genealogical records, the Whetstone, Wetzstein name was spelled "Wettstein" in the Canon of Berne, Switzerland. Those family members that went into Holland came to be known as Van der Woestynes, (Woestijn-07 SEP 1734 Leiden, Zuid Holland, Netherlands)among whom Abraham Van der Woestyne born in the Netherlands abt 1680, (died in PA) and wife Hanna are named as early descendants in America.
There is a remarkable similarity between the Vosges and the corresponding range of the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine: both lie within the same degrees of latitude and have the same geological formation; both are characterized by fine forests on their lower slopes, above which are open pasturages and rounded summits of a uniform altitude; both have a steep fall to the Rhine and a gradual descent on the other side. The Vosges in their southern portion are mainly of granite, with some porphyritic masses and of a kind of red sandstone (occasionally 1640 ft. in thickness) which on the western versant bears the French name of grès Vosgien.
By 1681 Louis XIV was looking over the Vosges and exclaiming over his new territory : "What a beautiful garden..." Without any pressure from Paris, the province of its own volition became increasingly French in spirit, proud to belong to the country generaly regarded as the most civilized in Europe at the time, yet always retaining its Germanic customs and dialects.
THE WETZSTEIN FAMILY EMIGRATES TO RUSSIA
There were Wettsteins living in Leimersheim, Rulzheim in the Rhineland, Pfalz area of Germany. It was in 1763 that Czaress Catherine the Great of Russia issued her second manifestos that encouraged German colonists to immigrate to her country from Germany. Russia possessed underdeveloped land on the Black Sea and on the banks of the Volga River, that was suitable for colonization. Catherine, herself a German, had also hoped that the colonists would improve Russian agriculture though the introduction of more modern methods from western Europe.
German immigration was motivated in part by religious intolerance and warfare in central Europe as well as by frequently difficult economic conditions. Catherine II's declaration freed German immigrants to Russia from military service (imposed on native Russians) and from most taxes. It placed the new arrivals outside of Russia's feudal hierarchy and granted them considerable internal autonomy. Moving to Russia gave most of them political rights that they would not have possessed in their own lands, Russia was a much freer state than despotic Europe. Religious minorities found these terms very agreeable, particularly Mennonites from the Vistula River valley, which had fallen into Prussian hands during the first partition of Poland. Their unwillingness to participate in military service, and their long tradition of dissent from mainstream Lutheranism and Calvinism, made life under the Prussians very difficult for them. Nearly all of the Prussian Mennonites immigrated to Russia over the following century, leaving no more than a handful in Prussia.
We know that there were Wetzsteins in the South Russian village of Spier. Upon arrival in Russia, colonists activities were restricted to the Volga Region where the colonists were expected to become farmers. Closed German villages were established. The Empress authorized a church to be built in each colony, which was paid for by the government and then repaid by the colonists themselves. Within four years from this time, the Empress issued a set of instructions regulating virtually every aspect of the settlers lives. By 1890, the land in the Volga Region became scarce and German colonists were diverted to Siberia.
THE WETZSTEIN FAMILY COMES TO AMERICA
The early German immigrants to Pennsylvania began arriving at Philadelphia in 1683 on the ship the Concord. Following this exodus from the homeland, the palatines poured into Philadelphia by the thousands. Wetzstein ancestors came to America, with many arriving in Pennsylvania. Peter Wetzstein, born abt Feb. 1, 1705. He married Anna Elizabeth Kurtz born: 1709 in Germany. When his wife died after emigrating to America, he married Anna Ursula Heilig. Peter Wetzstein died in Maryland. Peter Wetzstein was the (son of Jorg Wetzstein, who was the son of Heinrich Wetzstein and Anna Dilli Wetzstein, daughter of Stephen Dillus, the son of Jorg Dilles and Christina Rapp - Married 1619 at Kehl, Offenburg, Baden) Peter Wetzstein/Wettstein and wife Anna Elizabeth Kurtz Wetzstein/Wettstein and 6 year old daughter Magratha purchased passage aboard the ship "The Samuel," which brought many German and Swiss born immigrants on this voyage to America. Historical and genealogical information list Hans Heinrich Wettstein as living in Switzerland, 1720-1729.
The children of Peter Wetzstein/Wettstein are as follows:
- Johann Michael Wetzstein born: 30 July 1736 in Philadelphia Co. PA
- Christian Wettstein/Wetzstein/Whetstone born: 5 March 1741-1 was the son of Peter Wettstein/Whetstone & Anna Ursula Heilig. He died: 1810-1819-Woodbury Township, Bedford Co. PA.
- Anna Christina Wetzstein born: 16 March 1742/43 in Philadelphia Co. PA
- Johann Georg Wetzstein born: 20 September 1744 in Philadelphia Co. PA
- Johann Conrad Wetzstein born: 10 October 1745 in Philadelphia Co. PA
- John Wetzstein born:1747 in Frederick Co. MD
- Johann Balthasar Wetzstein born: 1749 in Frederick Co. MD
- Daniel Wetzstein born:1750 in Frederick Co. MD
- David Wetzstein born: 1753 in Frederick CO. MD
- CatharinaWetzstein born: 1758 in Frederick Co. MD
By 1727, there were 10,00-15,000 German immigrants in PA, and 70,000-80,000 by 1750. Germans were the first settlers in western Pennsylvania, arriving as early as 1708. A good many family members migrated to England, and this was also a place the ships stopped to take on food, water and supplies. The English spelling of the family name of Wetzstein is Whetstone, and there's an English village by this name. Three thousand Palatines were sent to Ireland, and the trip from England to Ireland took just 24 hours.
Before 1871, what is now Germany consisted of a number of separate states, such as Wurttemberg, Prussia, Bavaria, etc., whose boundaries changed frequently as because of wars and other circumstances. The Palatinate was one of the states, located along the Rhine River roughly where the modern German state of Rheinland-Pfalz is now located. The boundaries of the Palatinate varied with the political and dynastic fortunes of the Palatine Counts. It included parts of modern Germany, Switzerland, France, etc.
The Palatinate is now called Rheinland-Pfalz. The slope of the Palatine forest (Pfaelzer Wald) is one of the biggest wine-producing areas in Germany. In the northern and western parts of the Palatinate the terrain is mostly gently rolling hills, and it is valuable farming land. To the east there is the very fertile land of the Rhine valley; and to the south is the large Palatine Forest, with only small agricultural spots around the villages. The modern state of Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany has an area of 19,850 sq. km. (7,664 sq. mi.) and a population of 5,702,000 (1990 est). It's capital is Mainz.
In the 1700s when the English in Pennsylvania called the Germans, "Palatines" or "from the Palatinate" they merely meant "the German states" of the Rhine Valley (probably including Switzerland & Alsace). Pfalzer is the German word for the Palatines. In the 1600s and 1700s, the Rhineland Palatinates of Germany experienced wars and strife. Joseph Oppenheimer (1699-1739), one of the most prominent court Jews in Germany, used his position to convince the duke of Wurttemberg to rescind an expulsion order that had barred Jews from living in his duchy in the south of Germany.
Marading armies trampled grain fields, stealing livestock, and setting fire to property. Famines quickly spread throughout the land. The people were heavily taxed to pay for war, making daily life extremely difficult.
The Thirty Years War decimated the population of Baden-Wurttemburg, Bavaria, and Schwabia. The presiding duke of Bavaria and Schwabia promised the new settlers to be free of taxes for some years if they would come to replace the residents who had been killed and take over that land to produce crops for the people and income for the duke.
During the Thirty Years' War, Switzerland was a relative "oasis of peace and prosperity" (Grimmelshausen) in war-torn Europe, mostly because all major powers in Europe were depending on Swiss mercenaries, and would not let Switzerland fall in the hands of one of their rivals. Politically, they all tried to take influence, by way of mercenary commanders such as Jörg Jenatsch or Johann Rudolf Wettstein. The Drei Bünde of Grisons, at that point not yet a member of the Confederacy, were involved in the war from 1620, which led to their loss of the Valtellina in 1623.
At the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, Switzerland attained legal independence from the Holy Roman Empire. The Valtellina became a dependency of the Drei Bünde again after the Treaty and remained so until the founding of the Cisalpine Republic by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797.
In 1653, peasants of territories subject to Lucerne, Berne, Solothurn and Basel revolted because of currency devaluation. Although the authorities prevailed in this Swiss peasant war, they did pass some tax reforms and the incident in the long term prevented an absolutist development as would occur at some other courts of Europe. The confessional tensions remained, however, and erupted again in the Battles of Villmergen in 1656 and 1712.
In 1708 and 1709, thirty three thousand, left their homes in the Rhineland Palatinate for London on an invitation of Queen Anne, with 12,000 to 13,000 arriving in the summer of 1708. There were books and papers dispersed in the Palatinate, with the Queen's picture on the books, and the title page in letters of gold, which, on that account, were called, 'The Golden Book', to encourage the Palatines to come to England, in order to be sent to the Carolinas, or to other of Her Majesty's colonies, to be settle there. These were, for some time, in a destitute condition - wholly depending upon the charity of the inhabitants of the English metropolis.
There were men like Rev. John Giessendanner who prophesied to the Zurich town Counsel, and taught a number of people about being born again, and filled with the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of spiritual gifts. Eventually Pastor Gissendanner and his entire church emigrated to America where he started a church in the Carolinas, where Elizabeth Wettstein, a family member was a member of his church.
Giessendanner was quite an interesting man, and who originated in Germany/Swit. prior to immigrating to Orangburg, South Carolina, where he pastored the historic church and wrote of Elizabeth Wettstein being a member of his congregation.
Birth: 31 Jan 1660 Place: Lichtensteig,St. Gallen, Switzerland Death: 1738 Place: Orangeburg Dist,South Carolina
Parents: Father: Andreas Giessendanner Mother: Barbara Steger
Giessendanner prophesied to the town council, and went through a good decree of persecution. German Lutherns wanted reform, but this guy leaped into true New Testament Christianity, with all the signs and wonders spoken of in Mark 16:16-18 and Acts 2:17-38. He moved to America and had great success and was greatly loved as a pastor. Also prominent in the Wettstein history, was a man named Rock, (Roch) of the French Huguenots, who intermarried with the Wettsteins. This was during the early Protestant Reformation. (Trace through Johann Friedrick Rock of Badenburg/Adam Rock b. Oct. 3, 1796/d. Oct. 30, 1830 Franklin, PA and wife Susannah Berger)
During the autumn of 1709, one hundred and fifty families, consisting of six hundred and fifty Palatines, were transported, under the tutelar auspices of Christian De Grafferied and Ludwig Michell, natives of Switzerland, to North Carolina. As in all new countries, the Palatines were exposed to trials, privations and hardships incident to border life. One hundred of them were massacred by the Tuskarora Indians, Sept 22, 1707. The descendants of these Germans reside in different parts of that State.
Religious controversy also drove the people from the regions where they lived. European rulers dictated that state religion, not biblical truth, controled religious faith. The biblical faith of Germans was sorely tried. North America, especially Pennsylvania, offered them religious freedom.
Between 1618 and 1648 was the period of history titled the Thirty Years War, which arose due to discord between German Protestants and Catholics who disagreed over the interpretation of the Peace of Augsburg. In 1555, besieged by religious unrest from both Catholics and Protestants, Emperor Charles V granted a settlement that formally recognized Protestantism known as the Peace of Augsburg. It's guiding principle in the Latin is "cuius regio eius religio;" meaning "whoever rules an area may establish the religion of that area." If a prince is Lutheran, than his subjects are Lutheran. There were two inherent flaws which made conflicts inevitable. First, there was no solution to the problem of how church property should be handled when a change of faith took place in a district. Second, it failed to also recognize Calvinists who expected equal treatment. Augsburg was successful in two ways, in that it did bring to an end the hope of Rome and the Habsburgs to Europe.
Protestants and Catholics who failed to exterminate one another, were forced into mutual toleration by exhausted armies, political despair, and defeat. Both sides were reminded that worship is a freedom given by God. Historians point out that if only Pope Leo X had been more interested in religion and domestic peace instead of artwork, there may not have been a Reformation. Likewise, if Charles V had been more interested in people than his borders, tens of thousands would not have died in European wars during his and future generations.
The German Palatinate in the region of Worms was devastated during this battle, with it's towns razed farms destroyed and citizens massacred. At the conclusion of the Thirty Years War the area needed to be rebuilt.
Over 100,000 Germans migrated to the English colonies in North America, with many finding welcome in Pennsylvania. Others settled in New York, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, where they formed the largest non-English-speaking community in colonial North America.
German-Swiss Immigration History
In the name of God, Amen. I, Peter Wechsone of Washington County and the Province of Maryland, yeoman being very sick and weak in heart of body but of sound mind and memory..be given unto God calling unto mind the mortality of my body do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament, in manner following. I recommend my soul unto the hands of Almighty God that gave it and my body I recommend to the Earth to be buried in decent Christian Burial..at the Discretion of my Executors. And touching his Worldly Estate where it has pleased God to bless me in this life, I give, devise and dispose of the issue in the following manner. First, I give and bequeath to David, my dearly beloved son, the sum of eleven pounds lawful money of the State of Maryland to be issued and received out of my Estate. Also, I give unto Eve, my son John's wife, the sum of seven pounds lawful money, aforesaid to be levied and raised out of my estate, and also I give unto She the Big Iron Pot and one Pewter Basin for her trouble. Also I allow my Lord and Honorable Estate to be...and Divided Equally among all my children that is now alife. Also I allow my first born son, Michael issued the seal...which I devise, constitute make and ordain the sole executor of this my last will and testament. And I hereby utterly disallow and revoke all former Testaments, wills, legacies and executors satisfying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight.
Signed, Sealed, Published...and declared by the said Peter Wechsone as his last will and testament in the presence of us all.
Witnessed by Jacob Bakely, David Kerner.
On the back of the original will of the said Peter Wechsone are the following endorsements: -Washington County...29th Dec. 1778, there came Michael Whetstone and Michael Ruff Executors of the last will and testament of Peter Whetstone, Deceased and made oath on the Holy Evangels of Almighty God that this instrument of writing is a true and will of said deceased that have come to their hands and possession and they do not know of any others. -Certified by Thomas Sprigg, Reg.
Washington County...29th of December 1778, there came Jacob Bakley and David Kerner the two subscribing Witnesses to the within last will and testament of Peter Wechsone, late of said county deceased and formally made oath on the Holy Evangels of Almighty God that they did see the Testator herein named sign....this Will that they...publish...and declare the...to be his last will and testament that at the time of his so doing he was to the best of their apprehensions of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding and they respectively subscribed their...to this will in the presence and at the request of the Testator and in the presence of each other.
This is the last Will and Testament of Peter Whetstine- -also known as Peter Wetzstein/Peter Whetstone.
This family tree is from an antique book in a library in Switzerland. It was sent to us by a Wettstein descendant there.
Tom & Alana Campbell
5214 South 2nd Avenue
Everett, Wa. 98203-4113
Telephone (425) 252-2981