The German Migrations

Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

During the mid 1700’s, millions of Germans from the Lowlands migrated to America. These people essentially came from the North Rhine area and includes (todays) northern states of (Bundesländer): Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Bremen, North-Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western-Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. A common port of entry in the US was Philadelphia map. An examination of all of the early counties in Pennsylvania reveals individual families as well as religious congregations seeking free land in America. The indexes reveal billions of German names starting about 1690. Many settled in Pennsylvania while others treked southwestward into (today’s) North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Indiana. A popular settlement during the mid 1700’s was the State of Franklin, formed in 1784, which embraced Eastern Tennessee counties of Blount, Caswell, Greene, Spencer, Sevier, Sullivan, Washington and Wayne. Interestingly, land which was once along the North Carolina border became part of Franklin as it voted to give Congress some 29,000,000 acres. this State. In April 1784, the state of North Carolina voted to give Congress the 29,000,000 acres to help relieve debt.  Presumably, this included (later formed) Jonesborough, Tennessee.

I recently discovered one of my ancestors who received bounty lands in Wilkes County, Georgia, wrote in his Revolutionary War Pension that “he was born in North Carolina” in that area which became the State of Franklin. Further research then, suggests research in the North Carolina border counties as well as those in East Tennessee. He was born ca 1760/1765 which meant that his parents were born ca 1730 and traveled the pioneer trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cumberland Mountains and plateau and the Appalachian ridge and valleys. For anyone who has visited Cumberland Gap and the villages around Gatlinburg, this is truly a beautiful place. Notable is Cherokee, North Carolina, which was but one of many Cherokee villages spread throughout these mountains. As more immigrants poured into the area, the State of Franklin expanded.

The interesting part of searching for German ancestors is the variations in the names after they were anglicized. Hence, the necessity of observing and considering all possible name variaions. Once the German name has been zeroed in on, one needs to discover “where” in the Lowlands. Here is a website which may help

Some interesting names which I found in Sullivan County, Tennessee are: Netherland, Loudermilk, Bachman, Buckellen, Baugh, Beachboard, Torbitt, Pimberton, etc. I am in the process of adding old wills to the Tennessee section of Georgia Pioneers. (Lots of records here; this will be slow). To date, Lincoln, Greene and Franklin Counties TN have been added.