(Adapted from " Nickel Lang of Tulpehocken" by Regis J. Zagrocki;
Journal of the Berks County Genealogical Society, Vol. 21 No. 4, Summer 2001)
In August 1836, Nickel Lang and his family arrived at the port of Philadelphia on the ship "Harle" after a long journey from their previous home in Waldmohr, which is located in what is now Kreis Kusel, Germany. Along with them came Nickel's half-sister, Anna Catharina Jacobi and her husband Valentin Neu. Both families settled in Tulpehocken, Berks County.
Lang Family in Miesau, Germany
Nickel Lang was born in Obermiesau (now Miesau), Germany. His tombstone identifies his date of birth as February 2, 1702. His name, Nickel, is a variant form of Nicholas, and he was almost certainly baptized with the name Johann Nickel Lang. His parents were Johannes Lang and Anna Catharina Bischoff, and the family belonged to the Reformed congregation in Obermiesau. The Miesau Reformed Church records do not contain Nickel's birth or baptism because there is a gap in the records between 1702 and 1710. However, the Miesau Reformed Church marriage records identify Nickel's parents:
"1724 Jan 4 Nickel Lang surviving son of Johannes Lang of Obermisau and Maria Margareta Barth(in) surviving daughter of Hans Georg Barth of Kubelberg were married."
1696 May 22 Johannes Lang, legitimate son of deceased Wendel Lang citizen of Misau (sic), was married with Anna Catharina Bischoff, legitimate daughter of deceased Caspar Bischoff, in the Misau church."
Other known children of Johannes and Anna Catharina were Johann Caspar baptized September 19, 1697 and Anna Maria baptized March 7, 1699. Johann Caspar probably died in childhood since no further records of him were found. Anna Maria married Melchior Rolands/ Raulandt January 9, 1720 and died February 18, 1749.
Nickel's father, Johannes, died sometime between 1702, when the gap in the Miesau Reformed records begins, and 1703, based on the following record in the Catholic churchbook at Kubelberg, a community about five kilometers west of Miesau.
"1704 Jan 27 - Joannes Martinus Jacobi legitimate child of Melchior Jacobi and Gertrude married Anna Catharina Bischoff surviving widow of Jo'es [Johannes] Lang"
Other churchbook entries state that, at least after the marriage, (Johann) Martin Jacobi was a resident of Miesau.
The marriage record of Martin Jacobi and the widowed Anna Catharina establishes that the death of Johannes Lang occurred no later than late 1703. A separate research of Lutheran records in what is now Alsace, France, (see Betschdorf records on this site) and from the same time period, indicated that a minimum mourning period of three months was common before a surviving spouse with children would remarry. This seems very practical, when we consider the responsibilities and burden of raising and supporting of family in those times. Although no evidence of such a mourning period was noted in the records for Miesau and the surrounding communities, it is reasonable to assume that some similarly short span of time might separate the death of Johannes and the remarriage of his widow.
A Wife and Family in Miesau
Maria Magareta Barth was the first of three wives of Nickel Lang. A little more than a year after their marriage, Maria Margareta gave birth on February 3, 1725, to a son, Johan Adam, who was baptized February 6. The sponsors were Johan Adam Schaus of Schoneberg, Johan Theobald Barth of Kübelberg, and Maria Magdalena Schwartz(in) of Waldmohr.
Later entries in the church book of the Miesau Reformed congregation indicate that Nickel's first family was ill-fated. Maria Margareta died February 16, 1725, less than two weeks after the birth, apparently due to complications from childbirth. The child did not quite reach the age of ten months before he died, too.
"1725 Nov 27 Buried Johan Adam, little son of Nickel Lang of Obermisau, who died November 26. 35 weeks 1 day."
Starting A New Family in Waldmohr
The church records of the Reformed congregation of Waldmohr, a town about ten kilometers west of Miesau, note that J. Nikel Lang, widower of Misau, married Eva Elisabetha, daughter of Peter Blum, Gemeindsmann and miller, on January 22, 1726. These church records also show the following children born to them.
Johann Caspar born Dec 29, 1726
Johann Nickel born Jan 18, 1728
Johannes baptized Apr 30, 1730
Maria Elisabetha baptized Nov 11, 1731
Anna Catharina baptized Jan 24, 1733
Johann Jacob baptized May 17, 1735
Emigration and Immigration
Nickel Lang and his family left Walmohr for America in early 1736. Their motivation to strike off into the unknown is now long forgotten. Along with them went Valentin Neu and his wife, Anna Catharina Jacobi, Nickel's half-sister. German emigration records mention other relatives as well, but, so far, they have not been located in America. The emigration and immigration records imply that, somewhere between Waldmohr and Philadelphia, Eva Elisabetha Blum died and Nickel remarried.
Boyer cites research by Dr. Friedrich Krebs on German immigrant lists of the eighteenth century. The following is found on page 161.
"Obermiesau (today Miesau,
Nickel Lang, son of Johannes Lang of Obermiesau and wife Anna Catharina, went to the New Land (about 1735) with wife and children, from Waldmohr, where he was then residing. His step-sister Eva Rosina Jacobi, daughter of Martin Jacobi of Obermiesau, went to America at the same time, presumably with her brother, and was there married to Friedrich Steffinger. His sister Catharina Jacobi went to the New Land with her, along with her husband Valentin Neu."
Another reference is on page 163.
"Waldmohr (Kreis Kusel)
Valentin Blum, blacksmith, by trade a nailsmith, in the New Land, likewise his sister Eva Elisabetha, who was married to Nickel Lang of Waldmohr. Emigration about 1736."
In addition, Hacker notes that the book Auswanderung aus der Rheinpfalz und dem Saarland records that Johann Nickel Lang with wife and children emigrated to America in 1736.
On this side of the Atlantic, the "Harle" passengers included the following individuals on both the B and C lists. Children were not listed.
Nickel Lang age 34
Maria Langin age 33
Vallentin Neu age 24
An. Catharina Neuin age 25
There are no other Langs or Neus listed. Also absent from the list are Valentin Blum, his sister Eva Elisabetha (Blum) Lang, and Nickel's step-sister Eva Rosina Jacobi.
The age of 34 given for Nickel Lang agrees with the birth year on his tombstone. Maria Lang(in) must be Nickel's wife. The two passenger lists clearly include other wives so that the absence of a Eva Elisabetha Langin from both and the inclusion of Maria Langin on both imply that Maria is Nickel's spouse. Certainly, then, Eva Elisabetha died at some point on the journey, but how and where will probably forever be a mystery. Several published sources mention high incidences of death and disease among German emigrants to America during both their land journey to the harbor of departure and on the sea voyage. Unfortunately, very few records were kept.
It is no surprise that Nickel remarried quickly. Not only was this common when young children were involved, as discussed above, but the difficulty of making a new start in America would have made it an even greater necessity. Even if Nickel was unaware of the harsh realities of the 'New Land', he surely knew that troubles and hardships were ahead of him.
Who Maria was is also a mystery. The reference in Boyer suggests that she was not from the area around Waldmohr and Miesau. Most likely, she was a member of Nickel's traveling party, either the overland journey through Germany or the voyage across the Atlantic or both. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Nickel Lang married a third time, having out-lived his first two wives.
The Kübelberg Catholic records contain the following baptismal record of an Anna Catharina Jacobi. Note that the date would make her 25 in 1736, the same age as Anna Catharina Neu(in).
"1711 April 30, Miesau, baptized Anna Catharina legitimate daughter of married Martin Jacobi and Anna Catharina. Godparents were Theobald Bischoff from Miesau still unmarried and Anna Salome Jacobi still unmarried"
A baptismal record for Valentin Blum, brother of Eva Elisabetha, appears in the Waldmohr Reformed records, but no trace of him has yet been found in records on this side of the Atlantic. In the absence of such evidence, it seems quite possible that Valentin Blum did not complete the journey. He may have taken up residence elsewhere, even in Germany, or he might have died en route, as was the fate of his sister, Eva Elisabetha.
The Kübelberg Catholic churchbook contains two records for Eva Rosina Jacobi, half-sister of Nickel. The first is a record of twin girls born to Martin Jacobi and his wife Anna Catharina on January 12, 1718 [church record]. Although neither of the twins' names are noted in the record, their godmothers' names suggest that the girls' names were Maria Agnes and Eva Rosina. A Miesau Reformed record notes the burial of an Agnes, daughter of Martin Jacobi the Catholic tailor on May 9, 1721 at the age of three months and nineteen weeks. Back-calculating from the burial date gives a rough birth date of December 27, 1717, which agrees well with the baptismal date of the twins. The second record for Eva Rosina Jacobi is that of a marriage on January 13, 1739 of an "Eva Rosina Jacobi Calvinist Ref" to "Johannes Georgius Decker" in the Kubelberg Catholic churchbook [church record]. Neither of her parents are mentioned in the record, but the reference to the Reformed religion suggests that she could be the daughter of Martin Jacobi, Catholic, and Anna Catharina, Reformed. The marriage to Johann Georg Decker does not mean this is not the same person who married Friedrich Steffinger in America, but the marriage date clearly indicates that this individual did not emigrate with Nickel Lang. There is a phrase under the marriage record that appears to be a post-script added to that record at a later date:
"profecti st [sunt] in pensilvaniam (They have departed to Pennsylvania)"
In spite of some inconsistencies, this record seems to refer to a half-sister of Nickel Lang.
Tulpehocken, Berks County
Nickel Lang and Valentin Neu probably both settled in the Tulpehocken area within the first few years after their arrival in America. The earliest land records found are a 1753 land warrant for Nicholas Long and a 1763 warrant for Valentine New. However, other records clearly indicate that they were in the area at least a few years prior to these warrants. Irregularities in land registration were common at this time, and Nickel and Valentin were probably among the many Germans who settled and developed land many years before they were formally included in the system.
So far, the earliest direct evidence of the Lang family in the area is a 1750 baptism in the records at Zion Blue Mountain church in Strausstown. Both Nickel Lang and Valentin Neu appear in 1752 Berks County tax records for Tulpehocken Township. Nickel Lang is also mentioned in the will of George Wilhelm Berger [image of will], who was the father of Nickel's son-in-law Herber Berger, dated and signed on June 15, 1759 and probated in 1767:
"In the Name of God Amen, the fifteen day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty nine I George William Berger of Tulpehokin [sic] Township in the County of Berks ...Item my beloved friend Nicolaus Long is to take care of the four Pounds given unto my Grandchild and put out on interest untill he is of age "
Nickel Lang's signature appears on the will as one of the witnesses. This signature appears below in Figure 1 along side the "Harle" signatures. Figure 2 contains a similar comparison between the signature of Valentin Neu as it appears on his own will and the "Harle" signatures [image of entire will]. The close match of these signatures is probably the strongest evidence that the Tulpehocken residents and "Harle" passengers are the same individuals.
Signature of Nickel Lang on "Harle" B list (from Ref. #6)
Signature of Nickel Lang on "Harle" C list (from Ref. #6)
Signature of Nickel Lang on will of Geo. W. Berger - 1767
Signature of Valentin Neu on "Harle" B list (from Ref. #6)
Signature of Valentin Neu on "Harle" C list (from Ref. #6)
Signature of Valentin Neu (Ney) on his will - 1790
The Pennsylvania Archives contain references to Indian fighting on the property of Nicholas Long. A excerpt from a November 4, 1756 letter from Jacob Morgan to Governor Denny appears below. The date of this incident suggests that the Nicholas Long referred to here could have been either the elder Nickel Lang, or his son of the same name, but the feeling is that he is the elder Nickel Lang.
" I Recd an Express from Lieut. Humphres, commander at the Fort at Northkill, who informed me that the same Day about 11 o'Clock in the Forenoon, (about half a Mile from his Fort) as he was returning from his Scout, came upon a Body of Indians to the Number of Twenty at the House of Nicholas Long, where they had killed 2 old men and taken another Captive, ."
Nickel Lang is buried in the Strausstown Union Cemetery near Zion Blue Mountain Church in Berks County. The tombstone is badly weathered, but the inscribed birth and death dates have deciphered as February 2, 1702 and April 5, 1787, respectively. Nickel Lang last appears in the Berks county tax records in 1779, but he is not listed in the 1780. This suggests that he lived elsewhere, perhaps with one of his children, for a few years before his death.
Descendants of Nickel Lang
At present, it appears that eight children of Nickel Lang survived to adulthood and raised families: three children of Eva Elizabetha born in Germany - Caspar, Nickel, and Johannes; and five children born to Maria in America - Ludwig, Tobias, Anna Catharina married Herber Berger, Barbara married John Albert, and Maria Margaretha married Phillip Klahr. (The Anna Catharina baptized in Waldmohr on January 24, 1733 apparently died prior to December 1739, when the second Anna Catharina was born.) No references to the maiden names of the wives of Herber Berger and John Albert have been found, but the Lang connection is strongly implicated by Zion Blue Mountain Church records of the sponsors of the Berger, Klahr, and Lang children. In addition, Herber Berger and Philip Klahr, were administrators for the estate of Caspar Lang.
1. Boyer, Carl, 3rd, Ship
Passenger Lists Pennsylvania and Delaware (1641-1825); Newhall, CA (1980);
Lib. Of Congress #79-57204
2. Hacker, Werner, Professor; Eighteenth Century Emigrants from Southwest Germany (to America and other Countries)
3. Hall, Charles M.; The Atlantic Bridge to Germany, Volume II, Logan, Utah
4. Munger, Donna Bingham; Pennsylvania Land Records, Wilmington Delaware 1991
5. Pennsylvania Archives, Series I Vol. 3
6. Strassburger, Ralph Beaver. Pennsylvania German Pioneers. Ed. William John Hinke. Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1992 (originally published by Pennsylvania German Society, 1934)
7. Miesau Reformed churchbooks, LDS microfilms #0247639 and #1457640
8. Kubelberg Catholic churchbook, LDS microfilm #0400409
9. Waldmohr Reformed churchbook, LDS microfilm #1442011
10. Haller, Charles R. Across the Atlantic and Beyond. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books , 1993
11. Kuhns, Oscar. The German and Swiss Settlements of Colonial Pennsylvania. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books , 1989 (originally published in New York by Henry Holt and Company, 1901)
12. Timmons, Mary Alice and Kathy Stephanik, correspondence and their "Strausstown Roots" website
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