Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Before Anglin's Creek

For all of my life, the "ancestral" home of the Amick family has been on a tributary of the Gauley River called Anglin's Creek, but the family's history goes back to a time when the name was not even Amick.

Map of Germany from 1834 showing Wuerttemberg,
Alsace, and Palatinate.  The Rhine River was a major
avenue of transportation which ran from the Palatinate to
Rotterdam in The Netherlands.
Barbara Nichols wrote a well-documented and detailed history of the Amicks in Nicholas County, West Virginia, called John Amick, "The Miller", His Ancestors and Some Descendants.  It's from her work that I've summarized the story of the immigration and early history of the Emig/Amick family.  Nichols writes that the ancestors of the Amicks who settled in Nicholas County immigrated to America in 1749 on the ship Christian and that the roster of passengers listed 111 persons from "Wurtemberg, Alsace, and Zweibrach", so it's probable that the Emig family came from somewhere in what is now southwestern Germany, although some researchers think they may have come from Switzerland to southern Germany.  The territory of Alsace has been transferred between France and Germany over the centuries and is now located in France.  Today the state of Wuerttemberg includes the city of Stuttgart, and Zweibrach is Zweibruecken, a city in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which corresponds with histories describing a large migration to America from the German Palatinate in the 1700s.

The Palatine Emigration by Kraig Ruckel (2001) gives a good description of the circumstances that led to the mass migration:
  "The winter of 1708-1709 was very long and cold in the Rhineland. It was a very bleak period. People huddled around their fires as they considered quitting their homes and farms forever. By early April, the land was still frozen and most of the Palatines' vines had been killed by the bitter weather. Since 1702 their country had been enduring war and there was little hope for the future. The Thirty Years War lay heavy on their minds, a period in which one out of every three Germans had perished. The Palatines were heavily taxed and endured religious persecution. As the people considered their future, the older ones remembered that, in 1677, William Penn had visited the area, encouraging the people to go to Pennsylvania in America, a place where a man and his family could be free of the problems they were now encountering. 
 . . . Soon enough, their minds were made up for them as France's King Louis XIV invaded their land, ravaging especially the towns in the Lower Palatinate. In masses, the Palatines boarded their small boats and headed down the Rhine for Rotterdam. It was April 1709 and the first parties were afloat on the Rhine, many with only their most basic goods and their faith in God as their only possessions. . . The Elector, as expected, issued an edict forbidding the migration, but almost everyone ignored it. By October, 1709, more than 10,000 Palatines had completed the Rhine River journey. 
 The Duke of Marlborough was assigned by Queen Anne to transport the immigrants to England. British troop ships were also used. The Queen assumed these Protestants would help fuel the anti-Roman feelings developing in England. The ships from Rotterdam landed, in part, at Deptford and the refugees were sent to one of three camps at Deptford, Camberwell, and Blackheath outside the city wall of London."  

I want to include a note on German naming traditions at the time.  Children's names included a saint name first; for male children this was often Johann (John), so almost every German on a passenger list was named Johann or Johannes or Hans.  The given name came next, such as Georg or Heinrich or Jacob.  As for the surname, "Amick" did not exist at the time of immigration.  "Amick" is found spelled as Erig, Ihmig, Emich, Ering, Emigh, and for the first time as Emig in 1757.  

Johan Georg, the First Generation

Johan Georg Emig was born 7 July 1715.  He and his wife, Maria Elisabeth, had at least two sons in Germany:  Johan Heinrich (born about 1737-1739) and Johan Philip (born about 1741-1745).  They and their sons arrived in Philadelphia 13 September 1749.  Christian, the ship upon which the Emigs arrived in Pennsylvania, sailed from Rotterdam, "but last from Cowes in England", where the ship loaded supplies for the voyage to America.

The Emigs settled in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia on the New Jersey border with Pennsylvania, and another son, Johan George, was born to them.  He was baptized at the Tohickon Reformed Church in Bedminster Township on 21 April 1751.  The family lived in Haycock Township.  The father, Johan Georg Emig, was naturalized as a citizen on 22 September 1765, and the son, Johan Heinrich Emig, was naturalized in July 1765.

Tombstone of Johan Georg Emig at the Old
Cemetery, Trinity Union Church, Springfield,
Bucks County.  Maria Elisabeth is
thought to be buried beside him.  Photo from
In The History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania by William Davis (1876), Henry Emig (Amey) is mentioned:  "Besides John Stokes, the original purchasers immediately around Applebachville were William Strawn, George Emig, the original for Amey, who took up a tract of two hundred and thirty one acres eighty nine perches, which was confirmed by Thomas and Richard Penn, the 13th of July, 1768, who left the same to his son George by will, in 1773.  Emig, who was born July 13th, 1715, died March 7th, 1773, and was buried in the Springfield yard." 

Barbara Nichols says that Georg Emig obtained land in a lottery of 231 acres which was called "Innovation".  She quotes from his will that Mary, his wife, should live on their land during her life, and his son, George, should have all his real and personal estate.  Georg left his Bible to the Dutch Reformed Church in Springfield.  The Bible, printed in 1747, is inscribed, "This Bible, according to the last will and testament of Johann Georg Emig of Haycock twp, Bucks County, has been bequeathed to the High German Reformed Congregation in Springfield Twp and Bucks County for use in the public church service and has been surrendered by his estate, this taking place in the year of our Lord 1780."

Children of Johan Georg and Maria Elisabeth are:  1) Johan Heinrich, b. 1737-1739 in Germany, 2) Johan Philip, b. 1745-1747 in Germany, and 3) Johan George, baptized 21 April 1751 in Bedminster, PA, died 17 August 1833 in Haycock, PA.  Philip married Barbara Hahn about 1765, and he is no longer found in Bucks County records after his father died.  George, who inherited his father's estate, married Anna Margaretha Lerch in 1771; the George Emig family's surname became Amey in later years.  

Johan Heinrich, the Second Generation

Johan Heinrich, the oldest son, stayed in Bucks County after his father's death even though he did not inherit land at his father's death.  Heinrich (Henry) owned land in his own right, some acquired through land grants and perhaps some of it given to him by his father.  On 4 December 1759 Henry married Anna Catharina Nicolas, and they had eight children: 
 1) Maria Elisabeth, born 5 September 1760,
 2) unnamed child, stillborn in August 1761,
 3) Henry, born 7 June 1762, 
 4) Julianna, born 29 April 1765, 
 5) Catharine Margaret, born 9 January 1768, 
 6)John Philip, born 11 December 1769,
 7) Mary Magdalene, born 30 January 1772, 
 8) John George, born 6 April 1774.  

Henry, Sr., operated a saw and grist mill on Tohickon Creek, and when he died, his son, Henry, inherited the mill.  No date is given for Henry, Sr's., death, but his estate was inventoried on 11 June 1777.  Henry's land in Bucks County now lies under the waters of Lake Nockamixon. 

Henry, the Third Generation

The son, Henry II (so to speak), married Elisabeth Barbara Niemand in Bucks County about 1784, which would have been after the Revolutionary War ended in 1783.  During the Revolutionary War, Henry Amick (Emig) served as a private in the Bucks County Militia in Captain Manus Yost's company of the first regiment of foot, commanded by Colonel John Keller.  He is found on the muster roll in October 1781, when he would have been 19 years old. (Muster Rolls, etc. 1743-1787, edited by Thomas Montgomery, 1906).  Henry and Barbara had 11 children: 
 1) Elizabeth, November 1784,
 2) Henry Amick, Jr., 13 January 1788,
 3) Jacob Amick, Sr.,
 4) John Miller Amick, 6 September 1790, 
 5) Mary Amick, about 1797,
 6) Elisabeth Amick, 1800,
 7) Barbara Amick, about 1803,
 8) Esther Amick, about 1805,
 9) Reuben Amick, about 1806,
 10) Christina Amick, about 1808,
 11) Elias Amick, about 1808.  
After Barbara died in 1809, Henry married a woman named Catharine, and they had a daughter about 1811, who was also named Catharine.  

Map showing the location of
Pendleton County in WV.
Around 1790 Henry, revolutionary patriot and mill owner, moved his family to Pendleton County, Virginia (now West Virginia).  His first deed in Pendleton County spelled his surname "Ame" and was dated 3 November 1791.  It was in Pendleton County where the surname "Amick" was first used.   Although the original buildings from Henry's homestead do not survive today, Barbara Nichols describes his home as a "two-story house built of logs with a narrow stairway.  The old Indian trail went through the upper pasture. . .It was the shortest way into Franklin.  Henry's barn was up on the top of the rock back of the house.  The nob east of his farm was known as Amick Nob."  Henry's cousin, Nicholas Amick (son of Philip) also lived in Pendleton County for a while before moving to Kentucky.  

In Pendleton County Henry built another mill.  He also again served in the militia.  He mustered with the Pendleton County militia in September 1794.  In Fourteen Children Geneva Amick Dyer, great-granddaughter of Henry Amick, relates the history of the family as told to her by her grandmother, Catherine Bowers Amick (wife of John Miller Amick).  Mrs. Dyer writes that the family owned a gun-powder mill in Pendleton County:  
   "One morning after having started the mill in operation, and had gone home for their breakfast, there was an explosion, which destroyed the mill.  Neighbors who lived many miles away heard the explosion, and hurried to grandfather's home confident the parents had been killed, each one deciding as they came , which one of the six or seven children they would take to rear." (page 1)  Barbara Nichols relates that a log was blown into the branches of a tree across the creek by the force of the explosion.  The cause of the explosion was unknown, but there were no casualties.  

Barbara Amick died about 1809 and is buried along with Henry on a family cemetery on the Amick farm.  Henry Amick died about 1830.  Remember the narrow stair case in his house?  Henry died upstairs with his boots on.  He was a large man, and his family and neighbors were stumped about how to get his body down the narrow, circular stairs.  The problem was solved by a man who volunteered, with confidence, to bring the body down.  He grabbed Henry Amick by the heels of his boots and dragged him down the stairs.  One version of the story says he went feet first with his head bumping on the stairs, but another, more genteel version, says he went head first, and it was his boots that bumped down the stairs.  

Henry's sons, Jacob and John Amick, left Pendleton County after the mill explosion and settled in Nicholas County on the banks of Anglin's Creek, of all places.  I've written only a summary of the early history of the Amicks; I highly recommend Barbara Nichols' work if you are interested in details and documentation.   Up next:  what happened on Anglin's Creek.  


  1. My Uncle who just visited me this month is a descendant of Johan Georg “Emig” Amick b.07 Jul 1714 married to Maria Elisabeth . Thank you so much for this information. I have just now started looking into his line and my Aunt told me that when she retires, she wants to dabble in family history too. I have my line as far as I can go at the time and just now starting to branch out on Uncles and aunts sides. Appreciate your hard work.

  2. Thank you for this