|Birth: ||Dec. 6, 1715, Germany|
|Death: ||May 22, 1787|
It is important to note that the descendants of Nicholas Meyer changed the spelling to Myers.
An original stone cannot be found in this cemetery, but it is likely he and his wife are buried there. However, a stone was erected and dedicated on 5 Sept 1987. These are the remarks made on that day:
REMARKS ON THE DEDICATION OF A MONUMENT TO
NICHOLAS AND ANNA MARGARETHA MEYER
September 5, 1987
by Robert D. Myers
When the ancient Israelites left the Wilderness and crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, they were commanded to take up stones and build a monument close to the riverbank; so that when later generations would ask, "What do these stones mean", they would be told of the great event that had taken place there. What we are about here today follows in this ancient tradition. We have erected this stone so that we will not forget-and so that future generations will learn-how all of us have been blessed beyond measure by the fact that Nicholas and Anna Margaretha Meyer came to America.
There is much about them that we do not know. We know that they were Germans, but we don't know exactly where in Germany they originated. We know that Nicholas stepped off a ship in Philadelphia in 1737 when he was 22 years old, but we don't know when Anna Margaretha came or how old she was. We know that the two of them were married in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster in 1743, but we don't know where they were living at the time. We know that Nicholas obtained a warrant in 1742 for land in what is now Huntington and Reading Townships, Adams County, but we don't know precisely when they began living there.
Most important, perhaps, we don't know why they came to America. Immigrants have come to these shores throughout our history for a wide variety of reasons-some quite noble and some very common. We know that many of them fled religious persecution-and this was certainly true of many 18th Century German immigrants. We know that many of them sought to escape political oppression-and this was true of many of the 18th Century German immigrants. But we know that some came to this country to avoid criminal punishment, or social ostracism that resulted from some breach of community mores. Some were malcontents who just couldn't get along with their neighbors. Some were hotheads who stomped out after bitter confrontations with parents or siblings. Many, of course, simply wanted the chance for a better life.
We don't know which of these categories Nicholas and Anna Margaretha might have fit into; but we do know that Nicholas could not write his name. Very likely, he was an uneducated peasant, a member of that teeming class that tried to eke out an existence on a postage-stamp size piece of land owned by some feudal baron who dictated the crops that would be planted, the portion the peasants could keep for themselves and the church they would attend. I can just see Nicholas as a young man chafing under these restrictions, and determined enough and daring enough to do something about them.
Leaving farm and family to come to America was no easier for a German peasant in 1737 than it is today for immigrants to set out in rowboats from Southeast Asia or in locked boxcars from Mexico. The dangers then were just as life threatening; the future just as uncertain; the separation just as permanent. Sensible people didn't pull up stakes and go to another continent to live unless they had great and compelling reasons to do so. And this was true even of the young, despite their natural love of adventure.
For German peasants in 1737, coming to America meant finding their way to a Dutch seaport-usually Rotterdam-during the spring or early summer. To get there, they had to descend the Rhine River Valley on foot or by boat. This leg of the journey would take four to six weeks, because of the endless chain of principalities through which it ran-each with its own customs house, nosy inspectors and unhurried officials. Another delay of five to six weeks would be encountered at the seacoast. The ships did not follow any schedule; they sailed when they had a full load and favorable winds. Most peasants, and especially the younger ones, did not have the money to pay for their passage. They had to bargain with the ship captains in order to find one willing to haul them on credit with the hope of receiving payment by selling their services once they arrived in America. The immigrant would then labor as an indentured servant for a prescribed number of years to "work off" the passage. Nicholas probably had to do this, but we don't know for sure.
When the ship finally sailed from Holland, it went to England, usually the port of Cowes on the Isle of Wight. There, another week or two would be consumed while food and water were loaded, last-minute repairs made and additional crew members recruited. Finally, the ship would sail with the passengers crammed into the space below deck. The voyage was not direct. A sailing ship would leave the English Channel and head south along the European coast until it picked up the easterly trade winds off Africa. It would run before these winds to the West Indies and then head north along the American coast. At best, it took seven weeks; but if the ship was blown off course by a heavy storm-as frequently happened-the voyage might go on for three months.
The passengers, huddled together in the damp, bacteria-laden air below deck, sickened and often died. The death rate rose alarmingly on the voyages prolonged by storms. Food and water, scarce even on the shorter trips, sometimes ran out on the longer ones. Of the ships that made it across, half would dock in Philadelphia by the end of September. The others would straggle in between then and Christmas. The immigrants had little or no time to prepare for winter.
We do know that Nicholas was fortunate in his choice of a ship and ship's captain. Hugh Percy already had made three trips to America in the ship Samuel prior to 1737. Each of those trips had ended during the month of August, and Percy had safely landed about 700 immigrants on American soil. The 1737 trip ended on August 30 with about 300 passengers. Nicholas was one of 189 men who marched to the government office that day and swore an oath of allegiance to the British crown.
We don't know anything about Nicholas during the first five years he was in America. Perhaps he was working off his passage. Whatever he was doing, he managed to obtain some money; for in 1742 he bought a warrant from the Penns for land in what is now Adams County. Much of Pennsylvania was heavily wooded in those days; and, very likely, the land staked out by Nicholas was covered with large trees. Converting such land from forest to farm was the task of a lifetime-so strenuous as to pull the heart out of a man of steel. The large trees had to be felled laboriously with axe or saw, or girdled and left to slowly die. Once on the ground, they had to be cut up into manageable pieces and hauled away. The densely-matted surface of the ground, that had never been penetrated for agricultural purposes, had to be broken with a hand-held wooden plow, pulled by oxen, if available, but often by the men themselves.
Nicholas bought the land in 1742 and married Anna Margaretha in 1743; but we have no firm evidence that they were living on the land until 1749. We don't know, of course, but I suspect that they waited until enough land had been cleared to support a family, living, in the meantime, back in the York or Lancaster area. When they finally moved, it probably was to a small, dark, squat log hut in a little clearing surrounded by an immense forest penetrated by a couple of roads and populated by a handful of scattered settlers. Did they have any regrets that day, about coming to America? We don't know, of course. They left no diaries or other written reports. But it would have been an understandable human emotion, under the circumstances, even for German peasants. Twinges of regret might have surfaced with some frequency during those early years, like in the 1750s when they had to flee marauding Indians. But Nicholas and Anna Margaretha stayed and worked and reared their children. They watched their sons go off to fight the British and saw their daughters married. When, at last, they died in the late 1780s, they were surrounded by a burgeoning family that held title to more than a thousand acres of Adams County land.
We aren't even certain that they are buried in this cemetery; but all of the evidence suggests it. There are no gravestones. Perhaps there never were any, or perhaps they were made of wood and have long since crumbled into dust. After all, they were just simple people. But in this wilderness, by a half-century of heroic effort, they evolved from oppressed German peasants into free American farmers. That is the legacy they have bestowed upon their descendants. And, with it, the timeless example of unfaltering determination in the face of overwhelming forces. This stone is to remind us of these things, and to stand here as a symbol to future generations of just how much can be accomplished, even by simple people.
Anna Margaret Albert Myers (1727 - 1790)*
Johan Nicolaus Meyer (1750 - 1823)*
Susannah Myers Albert (1755 - 1831)*
Ludwig Myers (1757 - 1829)*
Jacob Myers (1758 - 1840)*
Peter Myers (1763 - 1839)*
Philip Myers (1766 - 1839)*
In memory of
Anna Margaretha Meyer
German immigrants who settled in this area in the 1740s and lie in unmarked graves in this cemetery, progenitors of a large and widespread family.
Erected by their descendants in 1987 to commemorate the family's 250 years in America.
Lower Bermudian Lutheran Church Cemetery
Maintained by: Ruth Myers
Originally Created by: pat callahan (inactive)
Record added: Jul 31, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 28670088