In 1700, in the countryside between
Pforzheim and Stuttgart, there was a
village by the name of Wiernsheim
near the Schwartzwald or "Black
Forest." In that town lived a Pflüger
family: the father was Hans Jerg
Pflüger, and the mother was Maria
Hübsch. Hans Jerg and Maria had five
children, all of them today listed in the
town's Church Register
(Kirchenregister). They named their first son Hans Jerg (Hans George) after his father and perhaps other ancestors.
This son was born in 1703, on the first of January. Other children followed:
Anna Margarete, born 21 Sepember 1704
Maria Barbara, born 19 July 1706
Jakob Sebastian, born 15 July 1707
Johann Friedrich, born 1709
Nothing is known of this young family of five as they grew up. On 10 May 1718, the father Hans
Jerg the elder remarried so it is assumed that his wife, the mother of his five children, died before
that time. His second wife was Sophie Margarete Reyle, and she was from nearby Iptingen. This
marriage added five more children to the household:
A child, unnamed, who was born and died in 1720
Georg Adam, born 24 November 1722, a twin, see next
Christian Gottfried, born 24 November 1722
Elisabeth Judith, born 16 March 1724
Maria Sophie, born 16 March 1724
After the younger Hans Jerg reached maturity, when he was 22, he married Anna
Elisabeth Strobel. Hans Jerg and wife Anna Elisabeth soon had two children of
Anna Elisabeth, born 27 August 1726, died 7 January 1807
Ursula Catharina, born 22 August 1728, died 10 March 1772
Entries for the children of Hans Jerg and Anna Elisabeth end here in the
Wiernsheim Kirchenregister. At the same time, a strange entry for a marriage attributed to Hans Jerg the elder,
presents a puzzle: Hans Jerg to Eva Franzisk Jost from Pinache, another neighboring village. The solution to the
puzzle may be explained in the events that followed the marriage of Hans Jerg to Eva.
On the Kirchenregister Pflüger family page it says that "nothing more is known about the son Hans Jerg Pflüger,
linenweaver in Wiernsheim." This comment is similar to others in the Palatinate area of Germany when young men
suddenly disappeared. The young men could not leave their community without permission of their sovereign because
they were required to serve in the militia of their province. So, many young men disappeared one day, gone forever.
Their families surely knew the circumstances, but how sad for these families. How sadder still for the Pflüger family.
Their first-born son was 27 or 28 years old. He had remarried after his first wife died in 1728 to a woman named Eve
(the name found on the 1731 ship's manifest). When Hans Jerg and Eve left, they also left behind the daughters born
to Hans Jerg and Anna Elisabeth Strobel. The circumstances and reasons for leaving these daughters behind are lost in
time. Those reasons may have been the best of reasons: ship voyages were very risky; the Pennsylvania frontier
looked idyllic in the brochures being distributed in the Palatinate, but it was unknown and foreign; the devastated
Strobel family may have pleaded for their granddaughters to remain behind.
The Journey Begins
The Neckar River runs past Wiernsheim and empties into the Rhine. A boat voyage down the Rhine was the easiest
way, though not the cheapest way, to get to Rotterdam where so many ships departed, filled with German emigrants.
Perhaps Hans Jerg and Eve, and now a Maria Barbara, chose one of the Rhine vessels headed for Rotterdam. Even
once they arrived in Rotterdam, they may have had a long wait to board a ship headed first to England—required by
the British government—and eventually to America.
Finally, in August 1731, the Ship Samuel landed at the port of Philadelphia. The ship's manifest (list of passengers)
duplicated the list presented to the colonial government in Philadelphia. It included four Pflüger passengers: Hans Jerg
or Georg, Eve, Maria Catarina, and Maria [suspected to be Maria Barbara]. Maria Catarina was the surprise voyager,
but she was the daughter of Hans Georg and probably of his wife Eve, a fact we know because Maria Catarina was
named in Hans Georg's later Will. Both Marias were listed with the children on the passenger list. Maria Catarina may
have been a toddler when she left Wiernsheim with her parents or she may have been born enroute. Maria [Barbara]
may have been Hans Georg's younger sister, then twenty-five. There is a marriage for Maria Barbara Pflüger on 8
March 1734 to Michael Nold in Rev. John Casper Stoever's Register of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
The Mystery of Maria Barbara
Maria Barbara could not have been a daughter of Hans Georg and Eve. Her birth was not registered as their child in
Wiernsheim, and if she were born about the time they married, she would have been under six years old in 1734 when
the marriage to Michael Nold took place. There were no other Pflüger immigrants in Pennsylvania at this time. Maria
Barbara was not named in Hans Georg's will as Maria Catarina was, suggesting that she may not have been a daughter.
If she were Hans Georg's daughter, she was the only child omitted. She may have received her inheritance early or she
may have died before her father.
The other possibility is that she was a sister of Hans Georg. The list of Hans Georg's siblings in the Kirchenregister in
Wiernsheim included a Maria Barbara. If she traveled with her brother, she would have been 25 years old at the time
and would not have been considered a minor, to be listed with the other children onboard the ship. Age comes into
question a second time: Maria Barbara would have been a 28 year-old spinster in 1734 when the Nold marriage took
place, so the solution to the puzzle is not simple. Attempts to find Maria Barbara after the Pennsylvania marriage date
have been futile. Has she been lost forever?
(Photos taken by descendant Virginia Semrau on her first trip to Wiernsheim. Many thanks to Virginia.)