PETER STUDEBAKER
(7th Great Grandpa)

Peter, age 38, Clement, age 36. and Heinrich, age 29, along with their wives and some children, were imported in the ship HARLE , from Rotterdam, and arrived in the port of Philadelphia on September 1, 1736. Also arriving on the HARLE at the same time were Jonathan Hager, age 22, and Christian Schreyack, age 18. Jonathan Hager was the founder of Hagerstown, MD. (http://my.ohio.voyager.net/~wkfisher/Studebaker.html)

 


Life in early 18th Century Germany had become very difficult for anyone who valued their personal freedom. Wars, religious conflicts, rapacious rulers and a stifling guild system tended to make it difficult for anyone who desired a better life. Hearing of a freer life in the new world, a family named Staudenbecker decided they wanted to worship however they chose, and have more freedom for their personal lives. The Staudenbeckers were blade-makers in the City of Solingen, which was (and still is) famous for its cutlery. Leaving was not as simple as it might seem.

Fearful of exporting their blade-making skills, the cutlers guild required that anyone leaving the guild had to work at another trade for five years in another city before they could emigrate. The Staudenbeckers did so, and moved to Hagen, Germany for the required five years. In 1736 they finally were free to move to the new world. Two brothers, Clement and Peter, a cousin, Heinrich, and their families journeyed down the Rhine. Various petty noblemen stopped them every few miles and forced them to pay "tolls", which amounted to whatever they could extract from the traveler. An unconfirmed family tradition says that the highly skilled Staudenbeckers built false sides and bottoms in their luggage and shipping crates, where they hid the bulk of their money. Once they reached the sea, they booked passage on the Harle, arriving in Philadelphia. When they arrived, the immigration clerks, unfamiliar with German pronunciations, recorded their names as "Studenbecker." Other records recorded their names as Studebaker, Studibaker, Studabaker and other variations.

The three families began farming in what were then frontier lands. At this time, the French were stirring up their Shawnee and Delaware Indian allies against the English colonies. On March 3, 1756, they raided Heinrich's farm, south of Welsh Run Creek. Heinrich was killed almost immediately; his wife and three of his four children were taken prisoner. Eager to get out of the area before other settlers could come to the rescue, the Indians began a forced march in which they killed Heinrich's expectant wife and a baby. Years later, three of the children were rescued, and two of them eventually married and raised families.

Several of the Studebakers went into blacksmithing and wagon-making. They settled on a design which became world famous- the Conestoga wagon. With settlement in Ohio beginning to open up, they found a ready market for their wagons. Several Studebakers moved west in the early 1800's with many settling in southwestern Ohio. One of them, John Studebaker, began a blacksmith shop; he raised five sons who went built wagons. Two of the sons, Clement and Henry, joined together as the Studebaker Wagon Company.
(http://www.studebakerfamily.org/history.html)

 

 

 

 

Translated Text of The Letter
(This is the transcript of a letter written by Peter and Clem to their relatives who still lived in Germany)

[Editor's notes in brackets]

America and Pennsylvania, October 16, 1737

Dearly beloved brothers, we received your esteemed writing dated March 21, 1737 of John Cueper, and we learn from it that you are in good health and prosper, a fact over which we heartily rejoice. Concerning ourselves, we are, thanks to God, well and in good health, too. As to your question regarding brother John, there is, thanks to God, no reason for complaint, for life is pleasant here. For we are better off than in Europe, because anyone who is willing to work can make a good living here, except for certain craftsmen.

The craftsmen are not organized here as with you. [The reference is probably to the toolmakers of the district from which the writers came]. Yet things could be better organized here, if only there were some masters here. For steel and iron are plentiful in this country. Good steel and iron and coal and grinding stones are imported from England, and the coal is for sale here as with you. Also there are many rivers.

Yet anybody who wants to work on a farm, can live a life without worries, for not much has to be paid to the sovereign, the maximum is six shillings per one hundred acres in the national currency. Some give corn and some give peppercorn and others give one shilling per one hundred acres and some don't pay anything, once the sovereign has received his money. Much that was bought from the late Count [William Penn], as indicated above, has to pay one shilling per one hundred acres.

Furthermore let me tell you how a poor man be able to come across, who lacks the money to pay the passage. There is the following agreement: If a man has children, he can put them into service. A boy has to remain in service until he is twenty one. The girl has to stay until eighteen years of age. For this, people pay a lot of money. In that way, a poor man is able to free himself and his wife.

Those, however, who have no children, must put themselves to service. In that case, they are given good food and drinking and clothing. Once the years of service are over, they receive fresh clothing from head to foot. And it is done very honestly and seemingly. If they are husband and wife they can get rid of their obligation in a short time.

Furthermore we have to write you how amazed we are about the difference that there is between this country and Germany. For the trees here are bearing good fruit in their branches and not wild ones. There are all kinds of apples, much better than with you, and whatever kind one wants. You should see the grain, and the turnips here are 7 lb. of weight and they taste much better than with you. This country is abundantly fertile.

Furthermore a word about the authorities. The authorities here are good ones. You can go to a person in authority in the same way as to a peasant. You don't have to take your hat off for a person in authority. They administer justice. Nobody suffers violence or injustice from them. They live a pious and God-fearing life. They don't harm or vex anybody as they do with you. When you sell something here, e.g., inheritance or tools, it does not concern the authorities.

When something is for sale here, the owner posts a notice by the wayside or in the street and in the inns. Over in Philadelphia, a notice is posted at the courthouse, as they call it in English, or in German language the chancery. However at Germantown it is posted at the marketplace halfway toward the Reformed Church. Also there is one who announces it publicly in the streets and fixes the day. Then people gather in great numbers. Then the goods are sold at auction to the highest bidder. With all these transactions the authorities are not concerned.

As far as religion in this country is concerned, it should be said that there are all kinds of faiths here. Firstly, where authority is as it were, within; congregations, in which they have no baptism, neither for infants nor for adults. Then there are also here whole congregations of Baptists and Seventh Day Baptists [i.e., Dunkers] who also practice adult baptism, and they keep their Sunday on Saturday, yet lead a good life. There are also many "monists" [Unitarians?] as well as Reformed and Lutherans, and also a few Catholics in Philadelphia, whom the late Count [William Penn] wanted to expel, but they insisted on the franchise granted to them by the late Lord. So he had to keep his peace. But afterwards both we and all new arrivals of the male sex must go to the town hall before the magistrates to give up and renege allegiance to the Pope in Rome [illegible] of Great Britain in England. For the rest the authorities permit all faiths. If a person lives a quiet and pious life, he may believe what he likes.

This is here a richly blessed country. The greatest difficulty is when somebody needs workers. He has to pay very highly for them. Any man who is able and willing to work can make a lot of money here. For a carpenter demands three sh. per day, i.e. one dollar (Cologne money) in your currency. It is the same with the joiner and the mason. A linen weaver gets three times what he receives over there, a shoemaker gets for a pair of man's shoes six and 1/2 sh. in our currency, that makes two dollars (Cologne money) and 13 fatmen (pennies), and leather sells at the same price as with you. Similarly a blacksmith makes also a lot of money. In conclusion, anybody who is willing to work here can prosper and live well. The rich people, who are eager to engage in commerce, will prosper here. For there is a lot of commerce here from this country with wheat and other things, to Holland, to England, to Maryland, to the south east, Virginia and to Catalonia [Carolina?] and to Schenecken [Jamaica?] and to East India and to many other places there is a good deal of business from here. Hence many people in Philadelphia do big business with the ships and the goods which the ships carry in. Whenever the ships come, which carry many goods with them and are anxious and hard pressed to leave again, the business people of Philadelphia will come and bargain with the captains of the boats and make big profits.

Again, those who are particularly rich, will make very large profits. They will buy many hundreds of acres from the sovereign at a low price and with the understanding that for all times they and their heirs will have to pay low taxes. With that money the sovereign builds jails for thieves and wicked people.

Furthermore we have to report concerning the wild Indians. They are as black as the pagans with you. But they are conscientious people. They believe that ...[illegible]... they call God in their language ...[illegible]... and refer to him with fear. They are anxious not to commit sins. They believe also, that after death when their life was not pleasant to the Pure and Omniscient, they will come to the North, where it is very cold and where they will have an evil regent, were they will freeze severely and where they will be badly tormented, whereas those who lived a good life will come to the South after their death, where they will have a good regent who will receive them in a friendly manner.

They put to shame the majority of nominal Christians. They are intelligent and of childlike simplicity, e.g., if you give them apples, they will take one and give the other ones to their fellows they should bite like children. For everything among the common people is according to good Christian order.

When one comes to see another one, the one coming will say to the other in the English language "Day" [probably "Good Day"] and they give each other the hand with great kindness and friendliness. When they part from each other, they say "Well" [probably "Farewell"] in the English language and they shake hands again with each other in decency. You may walk here through the whole country without ever hearing any cursing or swearing. When you think of Germany, you feel pity and horror.

There is further to be reported that to many rich people work is done in a cheap manner. This is how it is done: the sea captains bring many black negroes from the negro countries, who are sold here. They have to serve for the rest of their lives, and if there are among them who get married and have children, the children too, are the master's. They may be sold or kept as one pleases. In that manner the rich people are able to have their work done well. Anybody else who needs workers, must pay heavily for them. That is the greatest burden in this country.

 

God bless America.

 

 Clemens Studenbecker

  Peder Studenbecker
   Anno 1737

http://www.studebakerfamily.org/1737letter.html