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JURG MICHAEL HITTEL
Jurg (Michael Sr.) was born on December 14,1714 in the German Palentine state or Rhineland,now Germany. He was 23 years old when he made his voyage to America.
The reason for his trip to America is not known, but the conditions in the German Palentine and Rhineland areas at this time was deplorable. Between the continous wars that ravaged the area and the food drstroying missions to the religious unrest, all caused by the Catholic Princes that ruled, people were left without food and money. On top of that, the Princes conficated the property of the Protestants,(Mennonites,Moravians,Socinans,Schwenkfelders,Dunkers,Amish and Quakers) seized churches and expelled the most refractory Protestants. The Princes idea was to keep the German Peasants impoverished.
This meant that a great many German's could not pay the cost of a trip to America. However, ship captains and merchants able to advance the necessary money employed agents called "Newlanders". These people visited the peasants and convinced them to leave the father land. They wore flashy clothes,expensive jewelry and watches, all the while pretending to be American's. They convinced the peasants that in America there were endless fields and mountains of gold and silver,that wells and springs gush forth milk and honey,and everyone became a lord,a gracious lady or nobleman. Once persuaded,they were taken down the Rhine River to Amsterdam or Rotterdam,where they were packed in vessels bound for America. In return for their passage,they let the ships captain sell their labor in the colonies for a term of years. This netted a large profit to the newlanders and theur employers. The indebtness was usually four years.
During the trip down the Rhine River to Rotterdam,the passengers,who were paying their own way,were charged terrible fees (bribes and taxes)at each port or boundry line. Supplies were priced unreasonably high. A lot of passengers were penniless by the time they reached Rotterdam,if they ever got there. Some people then sold themselves as indentured servants just to get passage to the New World. If you had enough money to go on or had sold yourself,the journey didn't get any better. Disease was terrible due to overcrowded and dirty conditions. Food was also scarce. A lot of people didn't survive the trip or they were sick by the time they arrived to the New World.If so,they couldn't leave the ship once they arrived and were sent back.
As we know, Jurg made it to America. He was NOT indentured. He worked in Pennsylvania for 22 years before purchasing his first farm or plantation.He purchased it in January 1760.
Jurg married within four years of his arrival because his first child was born in 1742. He was a Cordwainer (shoemaker and harness maker). Jurg and his wife Anna Maria had twelve children. The last two of which were born on his farm/plantation. All six of Jurg's sons served in the Revolutionary War. They were;George Michael,John Adam,Jacob.John George,Jurg Friederich, and Bartholomew.
His first purchase of land was in 1760. On January 20, he was issued a land warrant for a tract in Northampton County. On January31, he was issued a patent for 171 acres, 90 perches of land in Northampton County for warrant and monies already paid, plus L85, 15s 7p. Pennsylvania was at this time a very wooded wilderness.
Jurg Michael Hittel dictated his last will and testament on November 15,1873. He was blind and feeble by this time. The executors of his estate were his son Adam Hittel and his son-in-law George Knappenberger. Most of his household items went to his spouse. His plantation was sold and the profits were divided between his children and their families. A portion was also set aside in a trust for his widow. Jurg died January 16,1786 in Western Salisbury Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. He is buried in the Old Church yard Cemetary.
Jurg's wife Anna Maria(also known as Ann Mary)died in April 1806. She appointed her two sons Adam and George as executors of her will. She left everything to her children and their heirs, excluding her son Jacob for good and sufficient reasons.
It is sad to note that there is very little information on the women in our family. We know they must have been extremely hard working and very brave to carve out a new life in the wilderness of the new world and to raise a large family.