This account is taken from the book, "Swiss and German, Pioneer Settlers of Southeastern Pennsylvania", by H. Frank Eshleman.


1754---Palatines Again Contract Ship Diseases.

This year a report was made by the surgeons employed at Philadelphia to enforce the quarantine against 'Sickly vessels," arriving in that city. (6 Col. Rec. 173-5). The following account of conditions is given by them. They say all passengers are liable in crowded vessels to fevers from foul air-fevers from contact with others in small rooms-- fevers from infectious matters brought on board. The steam of bilge water and the breath of great numbers between decks made the air putrid and produces poisons. Animal putrefaction is added to this and also uncleanliness. The sickness caused makes the victims rage in delirium. The poisons stay in the ships after the people land.

This year (1754) we have had these fevers again, the same as in 1741. lt spread from the ships to the wharves and over large areas in Philadelphia. Vessels that bring convicts and servants are the worst. Among the poor Germans it is so bad that often half of them perish. But not all by the fevers breaking out about the wharf came from the Palatines. But that their numerous arrival in such conditions do add "fresh fever" is probable. lt is true that too often the state of Palatine ships is concealed from the physicians who visit them in such a manner, that it is impossible to discover it, from anything they can see on board.

Thus we see that in spite of the "humane" law of a few years prior, requiring more space and greater sanitation to be provided by ship owners, for poor passengers, great epidemics of sickness were prevalent in this ocean travel.

1754 German Immigrants Buried in Strange Burying Grounds at Philadelphia.

Thomas Greene and Thomas Bond, medical inspectors for the Province of Pennsylvania, gave an account of the deaths, occurring largely from the contagious diseases, in a report to the Governor, this year. The subject seemed to have claimed the attention of the early Government of Pennsylvania, and in 6 Col. Rec., p. 168 to p. 176, a considerable amount of information on the subject may be found.

Among other things, in their report, these surgeons state (p. 173) that they inspected the different contagious diseases on these ships, and have given their view of the cause of the Same. On page 175 they state the number of Palatines who recently died from the fevers and were buried, to be 253 during the year 1754. They were buried. in what was known as the "Strangers Burying Ground." They state that Alexander Stedman reports 62, Henry Keppely 39, Benjamin Shumaker 57, Daniel Benezet 87, Michael Hilligas 8. This gives us an idea of the continued difficulties under which these people suffered.

1754-Petitions of the Germans in Philadelphia.

This year the Germans who had newly arrived and who were dispersed throughout the City of Philadelphia and its neighborhood, in a penniless, sick and other unfortunate condition, had their friends draw up a petition for them, and set forth some of the evils they were compelled to undergo, etc.

The petition was read in Council, Dec. 21, 1754. by Richard Wistar, and is found in the second Volume of the Pa. Archives, p. 217, as follows: "It's humbly requested that the Governor would please to take the present unhappy situation of ye poor Germans dispersed thro' this City and the neighborhood under his consideration.

Our complaint is not so much of such as are called sick houses, that is houses hired by the merchants for the reception of their sick, tho' we have reason to fear that there is not such sufficient provision of food, clothing and fuel made for the sick, even in those houses as their weak condition and the severity of the weather requires.

But our chief complaint is on the behalf of such as the Importers don't look upon as under their care, having as they term it, discharged themselves of them. These are people in years, others with very small children, and especially widows with small children, who not being able to pay their passages nor fit to be bound out as servants, the merchants have discharged them upon their own security, or after interchangeably binding them one for another, generally keeping their chests which contain their cloathes, tools, etc., & often best bedding as a further security, many of these are now dispersed as lodgers.

In many houses in town, in the outskirts and in the small plantations near it, generally destitute of necessaries, not only to restore them to health, but even to keep them alive; such as are able to go abegging to the terror and danger of the inhabitants, who from the smell of their cloathes when brought near a fire and infectious disorder which many of them are not free from, apprehend themselves in great danger. Anti those who are not able to beg must inevitably perish of misery and want, as It's believed that scores if not hundreds have already done this fall. It's therefore earnestly requested that the Governour would please to direct that a particular inquiry may be made in this melancholy case."

1754- Address of the Philadelphia German Protestants to the Governor.

This year according to Vol. 2, of the Pa. Archives, p. 200, the German Protestants of Philadelphia and the vicinity, delivered an address to the Governor of Pa., the following were the subjects, after first setting forth that they were of various religious denominations:

  1. That they appreciated the excellent government under which they live, where the best privileges in the known world are established.
  2. They praise the government of Pennsylvania for the 'inestimable liberty of conscience" and administration of laws, resulting from the plan laid down by Wm. Penn of immortal memory."
  3. They have great affection towards the King; and are thankful for the continued succession of the Protestant rulers on the British throne; and they have very great respect for the governors, that have been sent from time to time, though they have not publicly said so, heretofore, because of their people living so far apart over the province, and because they were modest and feared it would be looked upon as audacious.
  4. They remind the government that in the past they were accused publicly in England, of being against the government; but they say no single instance can be pointed to.
  5. That this address is the name of all classes of Protestant people, (except a few ignorant unmannerly people, who lately came among them) and these same people were always inclined to submit themselves under Romish slavery. They firmly stand with the King of Britain and Parliament in their effort to overthrow the designs of the French King, who are trying to disturb our peace.

Finally they say that being confident, that the Government of Pennsylvania and of the King of Great Britain and Parliament will not be moved by the various defamations made against them, and believing in the love of justice, to Great Britain, they now do this to deface unjust clamors at home, and in England, against them and promise to prove by their loyal behavior, their affection for this government. They then sign their names as follows:

Michael Schlatter George Hitner Mareus Kuhl Christopher Sholtze
Christian Schneyders Henry Keppele Jacob Peinerz Peter Pennebacker
David Susholtz Rudolph Buner Friedrich Mauss Mathias Hollenbach
Ernest Kurtz Henrich Bassier Johannes Gamber Peter Brunnholtz
Mathias Cline George Hubuer Henry Antes Philip Lidick
Mattias Abell Jacob Keanke Jacob Kopp George Graff

Also:Henry Keck, Henry Muhlenberg, Michael Walther, Christophe Rabe, John Schrack, Mathias Heinzelmann, Johann Caspar Rubel

The exact trouble or cause, made against them is not made very plain; but it is likely it was similar to the accusations made so many years against them, that they were not loyal to the government. See Vol. 2, Pa. Archives, p. 200.

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