Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A 1742 Journey On The "Francis and Elizabeth"

This ship is likely similar to the one that carried my ancestors.
I spent some time at EMU's Historical Library yesterday to see if I could find the name of the ship that brought Christian Yoder and family (including his sixteen-year-old-son Christian, my direct ancestor) across the Atlantic. Turns out it was the "Francis and Elizabeth", which left Rotterdam some time in midsummer of 1742, stopped briefly in London and finally landed in the port of Philadelphia on September 21, 1742. 

The three-volume work I found at EMU contained photocopies of signatures of a total of 149 men, not counting the ship's crew, who survived the perilous crossing on the F & E and who then officially signed away their past citizenship and pledged their loyalty to the Crown. There are no names listed of the women and children, but their total number was listed as 74 1/2 (The "1/2" apparently comes from adding an uneven number of children who under a certain age were counted as half a passenger, since they didn't take up as much space). 

It was amazing to see a copy of the actual signature of one of my paternal ancestors. But I was at first puzzled as to why there was only one Christian Yoder on the list, though I did find a Christian Yotter. Was he someone completely unrelated, and were 16-year-olds simply counted as children? Or could the younger Christian have chosen to use the more English-sounding spelling of the name "Joder" (pronounced Yoder, or Yetter in German), while the elder may have used a Swiss or German spelling, Yotter?

Not sure.

I also looked up Christian Nisly, one of my maternal ancestors who came to the new world in 1804 at age 17. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anyone listed by that name or by other variations of it, like Nusli, Neusley, or Nissli. Family stories passed on through the generations have it that his vessel nearly capsized in a storm and that the ship was attacked by pirates on the way, a common occurrence. And like virtually all cross-Atlantic voyages of that era, there would certainly have been a lot of sickness on board, some of which resulted in the tragic deaths of passengers who had to be buried at sea.

So many questions, so much trauma, so much courage, so many untold stories! 

"Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours."      
Hebrews 11:39-40 (the Message)

Here's a link to a later story on my ancestor Christian Yoder. 

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