July 23, 2016

Meme: Our Immigrant Ancestors - the Mennonite Jacob Burkholder

There is a lot of discussion about immigration in America right now. Tempers have flared, and different groups hold various strong opinions. There is also Brexit, where immigration was a large focus of the recent vote which resulted in the U.K. leaving the E.U.

I've been following this for several months and it occurs to me that those of us in Canada, America, and Australia have immigrant ancestors. Have you researched yours? Do you know who they were, why they came to your country and when? Do you know how they fared once settled in their new land? Were they welcomed? Were they shunned? Was their discrimination based on their religion or ethnic origin? These are all questions that are important, and interesting to discover. With that in mind, I'm the dedicating Saturdays (as many as needed) as the day to join me in discussing your immigrant ancestors.

You will be able to read any you are interested in by using the keyword Immigrant Ancestors. I'm going to share each week what I know of my immigrant ancestors to North America (whether that is USA or Canada)

Jacob and Sophia Burkholder, my 5th great-grandparents, were the first settlers in Hamilton Ontario Canada on land called the Burkholder Settlement. Jacob's land petition shows he arrived in Upper Canada July 1794 and applied for land 7 Aug. 1794. On this petition his name is recorded as Borghonder.

The Burkholder family came from the Ementhal valley outside Berne, Switzerland. Mennonites were opposed to war and many were imprisoned, exiled or burned at the stake. 

Jacob Burkholder, a weaver, and his two brothers, John and Christian sailed for America in 1765 on the ship Myrtilla. They landed at Philadelphia, 21 September 1765. John and Jacob Burkholder settled in Lampeter Twp., Lancaster Co.,  Pennsylvania, while Christian Burkholder settled near Newbury in Franklin Co., Pennsylvania. 

Several French Huguenot refugees were among the Myrtilla's 81 passengers, including Abraham and Sophia De Roche. Sophia was a French girl, supposedly of Huguenot descent. Jacob married Sophia De Roche in 1765 in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. Their signatures may be seen in Pennsylvania, where they took the oath of allegiance to the British Crown in 1765. 

Following the American Revolution, Jacob Burkholder with wife Sophia and their adult family left Pennsylvania for Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario). With their son Christian as their guide, they came by Conestoga wagon drawn by oxen, crossing at Buffalo and arriving at Niagara in present day Ontario

You can read more about the Burkholder family and origins at The Burkholder Family of Switzerland

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