In 1730 there was a serious outbreak of disease in Solingen Germany brought about by occupation of an invading Army which devastated the population. In the same year, Caspar Engels (II) and 9 other skilled blacksmiths were recruited by the French government to set up a steel blade manufacturing operation for the French Army in Klingenthal, Alsace, France along with a couple of dozen other "Coutliers" from Solingen with unique skills in making light weight but strong steel blades. He came with his entire family and his sons and daughters married in Alsace.

The oldest son of Caspar II, Clemens, left Klingenthal in about 1736 to live in Rauwiller France and is the ancestor of our cousin Henri. Henri also provided this information about the two brothers of Clemens, who are the ancestors of our American lines as they can be found in the church records of Klingenthal and neighboring towns:

Peter Engels (Sr) (1)m. Magdalena Frey on 19 Nov 1748 in Eywiller France

  1. Peter (Jr) b. 17 Sep 1749
  2. Johann Jacob b. 5 Apr 1751 d. before 1753
  3. Johann Jacob b. 25 Sep 1753 d. abt. 1754

Johann Peter Engels (Sr)(1) m. Elisabetha Maurer on 13 Jan 1737 in Wolfisheim France

  1. Anna Elizabetha 1737-1741
  2. Johann Peter 1740-1740
  3. Johann Peter 1742-1747

Elisabetha Maurer died in 1743
(2) m. Susanna Vautrin on 6 Jan 1744

  1. Johannes, b. 11. Nov. 1745
  2. Anna Elisabeth, b. 23. Nov. 1747
  3. Clemens, b. 30. Dec. 1748
  4. Johann Peter (Jr), b. 19. Nov. 1750

The imported iron workers from Germany were originally housed in a "Caserne" or barracks like building. The building housed the families on the second floor in communal living quarters and the first floor consisted of work shops for the various stages of manufacturing of bladed weapons such as bayonets and swords. Cousin Henri provided the sketch below of the Caserne drawn before it was demolished in 1858. Life in these dwellings could not have been pleasant or healthy with the fumes and noise filtering up from the work shops below. It was standard practice of the times to put stairways to the upper living levels on the outside the building to minimize the amount of poisonous fumes filtering into the living areas. As can be seen, the industrialist Henry Anthes, who operated the first factory, lived in much better quarters. In these buildings were born our ancestors Clement Engle and Peter Engels Jr.

Caserne d'oubriers

Cousin Henri also has found a list of payments in 1735 for both French and German workers. It is interesting there was apparently three grades or skill levels. Caspar II was an old "anciens" master blacksmith, Clemens and Johann Peter Sr were junior "jeunes" blacksmiths, Peter Sr and Johann Caspar were apprentices "apprentis" at this time. This classification also tracks their chronological age. Pay seemed to go according to skill level but also could have been impacted by your amount of output as well. (Johann Caspar Engels died in 1749 and never married)

The picture below is of the building in Klingenthal (Sept. 2001) where the brothers Peter Sr.and Johann Peter Sr. would have baptized their children in the 1740's. The bottom floor was where church services were held, the Pastor lived on the second floor, and school was conducted on the top floor. Currently it is a post office and city hall. It is located on the same road as the original Caserne and located about 100 feet away. Formal registration of their births occurred in the Reform Church in Wolfisheim.

Church building in Klingenthal

A Maria Susanna Vautrin (Wortring, Votrin), wife of Johann Peter Sr. was born in Kirberg, Moselle, France on 1 Oct 1718 and one of her brothers, John Daniel Vautrin immigrated to the U.S. in 1739. Communications from Rich Watring indicated that Susanna Votrin was born Mary Susanna Vautrin in 1718, and further, two uncles and a brother John Daniel had immigrated to the U.S. in the early 18th century. It could be surmised that the brother of Susanna could have had something to do with the Engels party relocating in America in 1754.

Caspar Engels II wife Catharine, died on 12 Dec 1750 and Caspar II died on 25 Mar 1751. On the 15th of October 1751, Maria Catharina sister of Johann Peter Sr. married Samuel Dellenbach in Klingenthal France. No record of children to this union have been found in France or America. Johann Peter's older brother Clemens had already left Klingenthal in 1737 and had established a cutlery business in Rauwiller France. The bayonet manufacturing business had dried up creating economic hard times so many of the Engels decided to immigrate to the American colonies in 1754.

Henri Engels while searching the Archives Departementales de Strasbourg for an act which could comprise the signature of Peter Engels, discovered that; "May 24, 1754 Peter ENGELS signed, in Eywiller, an act in which are mentioned 4 people, who owed him 65 Florins (a cow was worth approximately 25 Florins)". Another entry read; " April 15, 1758 announces that Clemens ENGELS requires, for his/her Peter brother which emigrated 4 years ago, the payment of this debt." Clearly this indicates that the Engels party left France for America about May 1754 with debts owed to Peter Sr as yet uncollected in 1758.

Further research by Henri uncovered a hand written copy in English, of a Power of Attorney issued by Peter Engels on 10 Oct. 1764 to a Thomas Price an attorney in Frederick County MD. The purpose of the document was to authorize the attorney to collect moneys still owed to Peter a cutler and appears to have been signed by Peter Engels himself. These documents prove Peter Engels Sr. immigrated to America in 1754 and was living in Frederick MD in 1764 pursuing a career as a cutler.

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