The Riegel Family: A sojourn From The Rhineland To Pennsylvania Part III
The American Riegel family that I trace my roots to began with a journey by Johannes Cornelius Riegel, his wife Anna Gertruitha and their seven children.With permission from the Authorities, They left the Rhineland-Palatinate region journeying for two months down the Rhine River to Rotterdam. That in itself must have been torturous, but it was nothing compared to what was ahead of them.The area they were leaving, often referred to as the Palatinate, must have been dear to them. It lay west of the Rhine, actually in Bavaria, and bordered the countries of Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Residents were known as Palatines, and the Riegels had called this beautiful country their home for centuries. And to know that were about to step onto an extremely crowded ship that would take them to a wilderness they had probably bought sight unseen....
(documents that remain in Germany support this)Surely they were hopeful, but they must felt much anxiety and uncertainty.But the devastation of the Thirty Years War and the religious persecution left my ancestors with few options.Having had some measure of wealth, it seems they used up all the resources they had to purchase the faraway land and pay for the passage of themselves and whatever personal property they were allowed.If they were fortunate , if their ship was too crowded with people, arrangements might be made for another ship to carry their belongings. So the Riegels prepared themselves, stepped aboard the crowded vessel and were soon on their way to Philadelphia.
There were three general periods of German Immigration to Pennsylvania: The first occurred beginning in 1683 and ended with the coming of the Swiss Mennonites in 1710 This period saw the establishment of Germantown: The second was from 1710 to 1727, when official statistics began to be published; The third extended to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, when all immigration ceased for a time. It was during the third period that the Palatines began to arrive, including the Riegels. Upon reaching Pennsylvania, all males over the age of sixteen were required to sign an oath...a declaration of allegiance and subjection to the King of Great Britain and fidelity to the Proprietary of Pennsylvania.
Two sons of Johann Cornelius arrived in Pennsylvania a year earlier: Matthias and Jorg Wilhelm.( my direct ancestor)Johann Cornelius moved right away to a small township named Tulpehocken after his business in Philadelphia. Matthias chose to remain in Bucks County, But Jorg Wilhelm(who later Americanized his name to George William) reunited with his parents where they founded a family home on Mill Creek. the land was very rugged, with deer trails and Indian trails the only roads, but as years went by, an impressive farm emerged.
Germans excelled in many trades, and Pennsylvania provided them with the resources to excel in industry, agriculture, and many other fields of endeavors.While all of Johann Cornelius' sons, and he himself were farmers at first, some soon branched out into such endeavors as paper mills, grist mills,textiles , etc. They became solid citizens in their new land, building schools, churches, and villages. Even today, these Pennsylvania Deutsch are recognized nationwide as being solid, honest, hard working people, and I'm thankful that some of those values were instilled in me.