My family came to the U.S., from Germany, on the ships Winter Galley in 1738 and Molly in 1741. They came by way of Rotterdam, Holland to Deal, England, and arrived in Philadelphia, PA. I grew up in Union County, PA and many family members are living there. I just recently learned of my dad’s side of the family ancestry through a family genealogy booklet that he gave to me and that was created in 1921. I am newly learning that my family served in politics, fought in the Revolutionary War, died at the Battle of Gettysburg, and were farmers like my dad was.
The women were huge contributors as housewives, farm help, mothers and more. One of them actually went by horse and buggy to collect her brothers body from a mass burial site when he died at the Battle of Gettysburg. She lovingly brought her brothers body home to rest in a cemetery close to the farm they grew up on. I am humbled and thoroughly intrigued to learn more and I have shared my booklet with the PA Historical Society so that others can connect their roots.
My family came here because of religious persecution as well as things like not being the first born so they would not inherit a family property. I say, why not come to the U.S.? I would not be here had they not immigrated and traveled by enduring grueling conditions in shipyards and on boats. An opportunity for them to have 90 acres of land, 2 horses and 2 head of cattle with the further opportunity to grow more and prosper.
I define an American as anyone who comes to this country and participates in the many offerings of this beautiful country. Participates in feeding communities, farming land, holding political offices to protect and promote it’s people, serves there country in battle (if they so choose), building homes, caring for those in need, teaching, mentoring….I could go on and on. My families story may be a different time period but the goals, the reasons, the participation is no different then immigrants today. I am so grateful to all who have these stories and I pray that soon we can all recognize that there is an immigrant story in all of us.