Friday, March 24, 2017

Harshbarger line: Jacob Kobel, 1682-1731 Immigrant

I'm once again coming to the end of known Harshbarger line immigrants to write about, so it was a thrill to find one who has a well-known history.  Actually, it's better known than I am going to write about, because there are some articles in genealogy journals that I've not yet been able to consult.  So this will be an incomplete sketch.  If the articles tell me more that I think the family would want to know about, I'll do an update.  But the story as I already know is one of courage and hard work and all the things we admire in our ancestors. 

Jacob Kobel was born in 1682 in Sinsheim, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, the son of Johann George and Eva Sonsst Kobel.  He had about 7 brothers and two half-brothers, so it was a large family.  He married Anna Maria Egli in 1708 in Hofferheim, Baden-Wuerttemburg, Germany.  Probably for economic reasons (his father had to provide a living for all those children!), Jacob and Maria left Germany when Queen Anne of England signaled her willingness to help the hopeful immigrants get to the New World, where they would work to build a colony.  Or did she?  Perhaps it was an offhand comment that somehow made it's way to Germany, but the arrivals in London thought they were on their way to the New World, where the queen was granting them free land.  Such was not the case. 

While the German immigrants arrived in greater and greater number, the English didn't know what to do with them.  Some found menial jobs, or joined the English army.  But most stayed on, jobless and without hope as they realized there was no free transportation or free land in their future. They were there for several months, if not longer, while funds were found to send them onward.  Meanwhile, these people lived in tents in a dismal part of London.  Even in summer, England is not always warm and they were there during the winter months, too, with little food or fuel to survive on.  I can't imagine spending a London winter living in a tent!  Finally, the group was so large that the Queen had to move them on, and the immigrants were sent to New York.

Most of them were indentured and worked around Schoharie, NY for the first years they were in America.  Once they had paid back their passage money by serving their indentureship, conditions didn't improve.  Their masters refused to free them, or to give them the money, tools, or clothes they were entitled to.  Finally, groups of Germans turned New Yorkers left the Schoharie area, fearing they were being followed all the way, and then those who survived the journey settled mostly in Tulpehocken, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

There, with the few things they had been able to bring with them, they settled, finally free.  It's not clear whether they were able to purchase land right away or whether they settled where they could and then paid for the land later, when crops and trapping allowed them to accumulate the funds to buy their own land.  Jacob was a miller, having built mills in the Schoharie area and also in the area of Womelsdorf, Pa., so he may have had a cash flow sooner than some of the other settlers.   

However, it was a hard life even after it got better, and Jacob lived only until 1731.  He and Maria had at least 8 children, with the first known child being born in 1713 and the last in 1726.  There may be other children, born before 1713 or after 1726, that we don't know of, perhaps because they didn't survive.  Maria, however, was a survivor and lived until 1774.  She had the misfortune to see her son Henry and most of his family massacred by Indians at the beginning of the French and Indian Wars, in 1755. (Although Jacob and Maria were Lutherans, Henry had married a Mennonite woman and they were pacifists who believed they were on good terms with the native Americans.  The surviving children became Lutherans as young adults.) 

We just can't begin to imagine everything that Jacob and Maria endured in their efforts to improve their lot and raise their family in America.  Take pride in this heritage!. 

I'm looking forward to finding the books and articles I have printed out for my next trip to the Allen County Public Library, and will do an update if I find more of interest. 

The line of descent is:

Jacob Kobel-Anna Maria Egli
Maria Barbara Kobel-Johann Jacob Schaeffer
Anna Maria Schaeffer-Jacob Whetstone
John Whetstone-Magdalena
Catherine Whetstone-Henry Cook or Koch
William Cook-Elizabeth Brown
Barbara Cook-William A Withers
William H Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants