The Thistle of Glasgow - Family Legends - The Oath - Family History
BAUMA, ZURICH, SWITZERLAND. Photograph taken in about 1926 This photograph, looking south, was provided by Heini and Irene WOLFENSBERGER of Bauma, Switzerland in May 1998.

The Thistle of Glasgow

by Dr. Fritz Braun and translated from the original German text.

Emigrants from the vicinity of Ludwigshafen on the Rhine sailing on the ship, "Thistle of Glasgow," in early June 1730, under the command of Captain Colin Dunlap, sailed from Rotterdam on a voyage to America. Aboard were 77 families and a number of single persons, altogether numbering 270 people.

On the 10th of June 1730, the ship arrived at Dover, and after 73 days of sailing, it arrived in Philadelphia on the 29th of August 1730. In the news of the "History of Emigration of the Pfaltzers," 1953 Volume, the passenger list of this shipload of emigrants was published. It in turn was taken from the 508 lists published in the three volume work entitled, "Pennsylvania Pioneer," written by Strassburger and Hinke and published in Norristown, Pennsylvania, around 1934. Most of the passengers on this list came from around the area of Ludwigshafen, which made it possible to almost pinpoint the point of origin at that time.

For those making inquiries, one of the most vital and profitable sources of information on a ship's list is specific points of origin. This information, unfortunately, was lacking on these lists. Also on the lists in the Courthouse in Philadelphia, where the emigrants had to register, this information is lacking. The general remarks on the records of the individual ships carry information about the names of the Captains, the point of sailing, departure, intermediate landings and the date of arrival in Pennsylvania.

Also there are plentiful references to the point of origin of the groups but only in general terms defining the general area from whence they came. For example, often after the name and designation "passenger," we can read the remark, "Pfaltzer," "Zweibrucken," "Wurttemburg," or similar phrases.

In this connection we must remember that the word "Pfaltz" was used in those days meaning "lands belonging to the Kurpfaltz" and not strictly the area now known as the "Pfaltz." The word "Pfaltz" in connection with these passengers is to be accepted in the broadest sense, and does not exclude the possibility that emigrants from other German provinces could be among those designated as "Pfaltzers." For the record of the "Thistle of Glasgow," it merely states that they were Pfaltzers.

For those who study family names, the deductions regarding the origin of the passenger lists of a ship can be greatly narrowed down by the names themselves, which are often a specific characteristic of the Fatherland. Furthermore, for the Pfaltz itself, names can indicate the particular part of the Pfaltz the people came from. (The Pfaltz, now part of the German state of Rhineland-Pfaltz, is located west of the Rhine.)

History also shows that in those days, ships' passengers or groups of passengers were assembled from rather narrow areas. There are many reasons for this, aside from the desire to emigrate. The working areas of artisans, the necessity for grouping between friends and relatives in order to insure the great adventure and successfully accomplish the voyage, the faith in persons with leadership, and the desire to go in the company of like customs and tastes were all important considerations in the 18th century.

Even though the ship's lists could only give heads of families of the first and family names of the males over 16 years of age, it is only on a few lists that the women and children or the age of a passenger list is given. Nevertheless, there are enough ways to achieve a comparatively clear picture of the origin of the passengers.

As early as 1953, the author had established the fact that the origins of the passengers of the ship "Thistle of Glasgow" could be found in a comparatively small area around Ludwigshafen. A close consideration and assembly of life dates in local records and in the United States, particularly in Pennsylvania and Maryland, show very satisfactory results and the author hopes, as time goes on, he can furnish more information based on connections between the emigrants through marriage before and after the voyage. This example will show what can be done through the bare skeleton of a ship's list.

Putting together the names and dates from the Pfaltz, America and even from Switzerland, produces substance to which may be added haphazard and seemingly unrelated material, thus reestablishing forgotten family connections. In addition, it furnishes valuable information about the history of the Pfaltzers.

This research definitely establishes the fact that the Swiss, who were not yet firmly or deeply established in the area, were, comparatively, communally interested as a group for further emigration.

All names on the passenger list are set forth even in cases where no further connections have as yet been established. In the spelling of the names, the author will rely on the publication of Strassburg and Hinke. for the three lists; one, the ship's manifest and the two lists, under oath, in Philadelphia.

John Wolfensberger, born circa 1695, arrived in Philadelphia 29 August 1730 on "Thistle of Glasgow." John Wolfensberger's wife was Anna Margaretha (Ensminger) born 21 September 1697, died 1 December 1777. She is buried in the Lutheran Cemetery, Schaefferstown, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, and although there is no tombstone for John, died circa 1761, Margaretha is believed to be buried beside John.

Children of John and Margaretha Wolfenberger:

Peter, born in Europe, married Elizabeth Smith.

John, born in Europe in 1730, died 8 November 1788, in Woodstock, Virginia, married Hannah Sumner.

Philip, born 14 February 1739, Heidelburg(sic) Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, died 14 July 1824. Married Susannah. Philip was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War.

Catherine, born in Pennsylvania, married Jacob Frey.

Anna Maria, born in Pennsylvania, married Martin Heffelfinger.