Monday, November 14, 2016

Nicola Walter (c1720-1804), the Immigrant

At our first Lange Cousins reunion held in June 2015, my Aunt Katherine asked me to look into her father's Walter family as she did not know much about him. I was able to trace this family back to the original immigrant, Nicola Walter, who was born about 1720 in what is now the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany. I also learned two descendants had written a book entitled Nicola Walter and His Descendants. A terrific Ancestry.com member sent me an electronic copy of the book, but it is also available on microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Here is the story of Nicola Walter's life from the aforementioned book.

"Nicola (Nicholas) Walter, with whom this history begins, was born in the Rhine Valley (Palatinate) area of Germany in about 1720. There he grew to manhood, married and began raising a family. Probably as a result of the almost complete devastation of his homeland by the Thirty Years War and the subsequent economic hardships, he decided to migrate to America. In the spring of 1751, he took passage on the ship 'Patience,' Hugh Steele, Master, at Rotterdam, Holland, together with his wife Margaret and four young sons. From Rotterdam the Patience proceeded to the port of Philadelphia, via Cowes, England, arriving after a voyage of about four months on September 9, 1751.


Advertisement for the ship Patience; image courtesy of Google

The family located originally, in the area of Goshenhoppen (now Balley), Berks County, Pennsylvania, in what was then a small German Catholic community (62 men and 55 women). The name Walter appeared a number of times in the early records of St. Paul's Church or Goshenhoppen Chapel as it was commonly known (now the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament), which dates from 1741.

About 1758 Nicola moved his family to the rapidly growing town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The records of the period list his occupation as a 'taylor.' Nicola apparently found some measure of prosperity in Lancaster, for in 1763 he purchased a lot on King Street and in 1766 added to his land holdings by purchasing an adjoining lot. Sometime during this period (1764-1767), Nicola's wife Margaret died.

In about 1779 Nicola, his family now grown and having remarried moved with his second wife, Rosanna, to McSherrys Town, Heidelberg Township, York County, Pennsylvania, where he purchased a five acre lot (lot #6) on the north side of Main Street and built a house. McSherrys Town, at that time, was populated by many of the German immigrant families who had originally settled at Goshenhoppen. Nicola lived in McSherrys Town for the remainder of his life and taught school there, probably in the church school associated with Conewago Chapel, now the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He died on September 21, 1804 and was buried in the church graveyard.

In 1850 Conewago Chapel was enlarged in the direction of the oldest section of the graveyard. Rather than disturb the graves of those who had been laid to rest at the rear of the church in the early part of the century, the church addition was built directly over many of the older tombs. as a result, Nicola Walter, our forebearer, rests in eternal peace under the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, McSherrys Town, Pennsylvania.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; photograph by Find A Grave volunteer
Maggie Mac

Nicola's children[1]:

  1. Nicholas Walter, Jr. born about 1744, died 30 November 1816 in Baltimore, Maryland; married 1) Mary Eva Kuhn and 2) Anna Maria Weber
  2. Joseph Walter about born 1746, died 1790; married Christina
  3. Peter Walter born about 1748, died 10 October 1830 in Frederick County, Maryland; married Margaret
  4. John Walter born about 1750, murdered 21 August 1771 one mile from Elkridge, Maryland; married Elizabeth (Aunt Katherine's three times great grandfather)
  5. Maryann Walter born about 1752, date of death unknown; married Peter Will, Jr. 
  6. Lewis Walter born about 1764
It is possible he is also the father of Margaret, Magdalen, and James Walter."

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[1] I have added death information and spouses from my family tree.

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