Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jacob Berlin :: The Voyage Across the Ocean

As shown in There were three brothers who immigrated... Yeah, Right! Jacob Berlin arrived in Philadelphia on November 9, 1738 on the Charming Nancy with his two brothers, Frederick and Abraham. Jacob is my 6th great-grandfather.

List 65 A in "Pennsylvania German Pioneers" (Strassburger/Hinke, 1934) not only gave the names of the men over the age of fifteen years, but also gave their ages. Among the 65 men listed were: Hans Jacob Barlin, 22; Geo. Fredk. Barlin, 18; and Abraham Barlin, 16.

The Harbor of Philadelphia seen from New Jersey Shore, based on Scull's Map of 1754 (From Etching in The Historical Society of Pennsylvania) published in "Pennsylvania German Pioneers" (Strassburger/Hinke, 1934)

Since there is apparently (I haven't seen it) a record of their father, George, requesting permission to leave their home in Niederbronn and given the fact that he is not on any of the passenger lists for the Charming Nancy, it is presumed that George and his wife perished on the voyage on their way to a new life. Reading about the conditions on the ships and the crowded conditions, it is not surprising that they could be among those who died.

The year 1738 became known as "The Year of the Destroying Angels" due to a higher than average number of passenger deaths and illness on ships coming from England. Also that year there were a higher number of immigrants leaving their homeland, nearly 6000. The number of German immigrants arriving in Philadelphia had more than doubled each year beginning in 1735 with 268, 736 in 1736, and 1528 in 1737. Ships were overcrowded and heavily laden.

Part one of the article by Klaus Wust "The Emigration Season of 1738 – Year of the Destroying Angels" was published online in 1998, with his permission. I've picked out a few passages that mentioned either the Stedman Brothers or the Charming Nancy.
"In Rotterdam, additional merchant ships were fitted for the overflow of emigrants. Even the departures of John Stedman's St. Andrew and Charles Stedman's Charming Nancy were delayed by these transformations. Passengers said the two Stedmans had deliberately picked the healthiest and sturdiest people."
"Captain Walter Goodman of the Robert & Alice sent a letter back to Germany on October 19th. Excerpts were published in the Rotterdamse Courant two months later:
"On the 4th of July last I sailed out of Dover in England and arrived here on this river on the 9th of September with crew and passengers in good health but on the way I had many sick people, yet, since not more than 18 died, we lost by far the least of all the ships arrived to-date. We were the third ship to arrive. I sailed in company with four of the skippers who together had 425 deaths, one had 140, one 115, one 90, and one 80. The two captains Stedman have not yet arrived and I do not doubt that I shall be cleared for departure before they arrive since I begin loading tomorrow. I have disposed of all my passengers except for 20 families."
"On November 20th another letter from the people in Germantown to the people in Wittgenstein was sent. The letter concludes with an upward assessment of the total number of victims: "There has been a cruel, destroying angel among the travelers this year for the number of those who died so far on the voyage and here has reached about 2000."
"The ship Davy qualified in the port of Philadelphia on October 25th. The next day the Gazette revealed the horrible story of this voyage. The captain, both mates and 160 passengers died at sea. It was the ship's carpenter, William Patton, who brought the ravaged vessel up the Delaware. Patton listed 74 men, 47 women and no children as the remaining passengers but only 40 of the men were well enough to come to the courthouse."
"Next appeared the long overdue St. Andrew, commanded by the favorite ship captain of the Germans, John Stedman. Several letters of passengers on some of his previous five runs between Rotterdam and Philadelphia were full of praise for him. This time, on a voyage that lasted twelve weeks, almost 120 passengers had died before reaching port on October 29th. The same day, Lloyd Zachary and Thomas Bond, two physicians recruited by the authorities to tighten the inspection of the incoming Palatine ships, presented this report to the colonial council:
"We have carefully examined the State of Health of the Mariners and Passengers on board the Ship St. Andrew, Captain Steadman, from Rotterdam, and found a great number labouring under a malignant, eruptive fever, and are of the opinion, they cannot, for some time, be landed in town without the danger of infecting the inhabitants."
"It was the last emigrant transport that John Stedman ever commanded. After his return to Europe, he settled down in Rotterdam in the shipping business. There was disbelief in the German community that such fate could have befallen a ship led by a Stedman. The Send-Schreiben expressed the reaction as follows:
"The two Stedmans, who had so far been renowned for the transfer of Germans and wanted to keep this reputation, also had to suffer the plight this time, one of them lost near 120 before landfall, although he had a party of the Hope's roughest and sturdiest folks, who had to succumb to sickness and fear of death. And the other one lost probably five-sixths, of 300 hardly 60 were left. His mates and some of his sailors he lost and he himself lay near death."
The online article ends at this point, I haven't yet obtained a copy of the entire article (it's on my To Do list). But after reading the above article, I think it is a wonder that the three Berlin brothers survived the journey. They were young and most certainly of strong stock. The conditions on board the ship must have been terrible. I can imagine the boys trying to help the other passengers and wonder what they must have thought of the situation. Obviously, I am delighted that they survived!

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Jacob Berlin :: The Voyage Across the Ocean," Kinexxions, posted June 13, 2012 ( : accessed [access date])

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