Whitenack Family History and Letters, by Mildred Hamburg (cont.)

There are many stories circulating regarding the Whitenack immigrants. The one I am most familiar with is the story of Cornelius Whitenack (my ancestor). The story goes (so Christiana Harker, my grandmother, whose mother was Mary Whitenack before her marriage) that Cornelius, her father, was adopted by the Whitenack family about 1795 and that his parents were Dutch and were both drowned when their ship was wrecked in the Atlantic Ocean. Cornelius was saved, however, and was adopted by the Whitenack's and raised as their own child. No one knows Cornelius' real name -- he was too small to remember. Other members of this Whitenack family have never heard this tale!!

Another story is that the Whitenack's are descended from two stowaway Dutch children who came to America in 1638 and landed in New Amsterdam, New York.

Recently I came across a fold story about the Palatinate's who came to America early in the 18th centry. A shipload of Palatinates upon nearing America's shores began to tell how clever they were in pretending to be penniless and arranging for their passage to America for nothing and how many of them were quite wealthy, having hidden their treasure on board the ship. This story got to the captain's ears and being a greedy man, he planned to murder the Palatinates, steal their treasuer and claim they had died at sea. He enlisted the help of his crew. After massacering the passengers, they set fire to the ship, then the crew took to the lifeboats. They were amazed at the sight of the ship, it burned and burned all night but in the morning, the ship was still there, blackened but it did not sink. Worst of all the burnt ship seemed to be following them. Each night toward dusk it was on fire again and continued to burn all night. Many stories are told that this ship continues to haunt our eastern shores. It will not sink to the bottom of the ocean and bury its dead passengers but just at dusk it is again on fire, a grim reminder of a captain's green and his passengers who never arrived in America.

One can only wonder at the origin and how much truth there can be to these stories. Many stories are told of the hardships of the Palatinate both before and after coming to America. Perhaps in recounting the history of their families to their children they elaborated them a little because children love a story that has plenty of excitement, trouble, etc. as long as it ends happily. On retelling those stories to their grandchildren, they may have elaborated still more so now when the truth would make an interesting story, we have only these oft-repeated tales that no one can verify.

Since there are no facts to substantiate these stories, I will now list what has been recorded in census figures, town records, biographies of later descendents, family bibles, etc. While we now have established many of the Whitenack lines in America, some lines are still a mystery which need more time to solve. For this reason, I decided to use a numbering system for the various families in America so it will be possible to fit in missing members of these families which may be overlooked when it is first assembled.

Records of the Weidknecht family's arrival in America are as follows:

Andreas Weidknecht, his wife Margretha and three children came to America in 1709. They joined the great Palatinate emmigration from Germany to England in 1709. Some authorities claim there were 2,000 and others 32,000 in the group. Not all of them came to America; soe went to Ireland. Reason for emmigration: thirty years war devastated Palatinate region, higher and higher taxes to support rulers of Germany in luxury, extremem cold winter of 1709 - birds on the wing fell dead, wind in casks froze solid, etc. There were six sailings of Palatinates to America, the first four boats carried extremely poor emmigrants who were unable to pay for their passage. The names of the passengers on the first four ships is available but the Weidknecht family was not listed. The last two ships passengers were for the most part tradesmen and paid for their own passage. The last boat did not arrive until August 2, 1710 in America. They were all laden with disease acquired on shipboard so they were quarantined for five months on Nutten Island now known as Governor's Island so doctors could examine them. They lived in tents while typhus raged among them. Many children were left orphans and they were apprenticed to leading citizens in New York. 84 orphans were apprenticed in this fashion. The Palatines had been promised 40 acres each but they did not receive this until they had fulfilled their contract. Queen Anne of England who felt sorry for the Palatines in Germany made the necessary arrangements to transport them to America where they were to be engaged for tar manufacturing purposes. About half of the Palatines were farmers or vine dressers in Germany. Upon their arrival, they were put to work on storehouses and barrels under a plan whereby they received 2 shillings a day, half in cash and half in credit on their accounts for food and necessities.

From the "Book of Names" by MacWethy: (A colonial census of 1710)

In the West Camp:
Weidnecht, Andreas, age 40
Weidnecht, Margaret, age 40
Weidnecht, George Fred, age 13
Weidnecht, John George, age 11
Weidnecht, Anna Eliz., age 9

By 1712, the census of this family showed three adults (children over 10 were counted as adults) so one must have died. The next census showed that Margretha Weidknechtin, widow and two children at Diese Monschen wohnen auf dem Rarendantz (Kniskerndorf) Schoharie Valley settlement. This is near the Katskill Mountains.

The Palatines were led by Rev. Joshua Kocherthal. In the "Kocherthal Records" which was published in Germany in 1717, Rev. Kocherthal listed Margretha Weidknecht as godparent of Johann Dietrich Marterstock 2.XII.1711 Andreas Weidknecht as godparent to Juliana Elisabetha Lastner on 21.XII.171? a Johann Michael Waidnecht was godparent to Elizabetha Mueller. Andreas Weidknecht was on the Safety Committee.

There are no further records of the family until June 17, 1716, Anna Marie Weidknechten witnessed a Lutheran Baptism on the Raritan at Nine Mile Run, New Jersey. Anna Marie Weidknechten may have been Blakert Witenek's wife. Blakert Witenek's wife's name was Anna but no records of Blakert Witenek are in existence until about 1740.

Family No. 3
Andreas Weidnecht, born Nov. 1, 1672 in Adelshofen married Margretha ------, before 1697. Andreas died in America (New York) about 1711. The place and year of Margretha's death is unknown. Their children whom they brought with them to America are as follows: George Fred Weidknecht born about 1697 and believed to be the Johannes Weidknecht who lived and died in New Jersey, see below for his family; Anna Elizabeth Weidknecht, born about 1701 of whom there are no futher records as to whom she married or when she died. There is a possibility that Blakert Whitenack is the son of Andreas and Margretha and was born in America about 1711/12. He is undoubtedly closely related to Andreas and Margretha Weidknecht and Johannes Weidknecht as he named his children after them. For his records, see Family B.

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