Some of our ancestors scrimped and saved enough money to pay their passage across the Atlantic to America. Others were dragged kicking and screaming.
Such is the story of John Christian Forbes of Braunschweig, Germany. His great-grandson, Stan Forbes, shared the tale of how his family came to live in America.
The son of a well-to-do farmer, John Christian took a herd of cows to market in the port city for his father, who had sold them to the British government. Officers on board the vessel talked the 16-year-old into coming aboard the ship, telling him they could land him close to his village, thereby saving him the long overland journey.
After the vessel was out of sight of land, it dawned on the young drover that he had been shanghaied. Next stop the American Colonies.
On this side of the Atlantic, there was a revolution going on, and John was impressed into service of the Crown. Much of his story is lost during the intervening years, but the family knows that he did not like fighting with the British.
As soon as he could, he joined the patriots in their revolution against the king. His service is recognized in the book, ‘Pioneer and Patriot Families of Bradford County, Pennsylvania.’
After the war, John settled on the Delaware River in New York, and was married in July 1783 to Deborah Williams, a Delaware County native. Later, they moved to Sheshequin, Bradford County, Pa., where John lived out his days, dying in his 93rd year.
Ninian Beall, who forms the trunk of my husband Dales family tree, came to America in the late 1600s, again in a roundabout way. Beall was arrested for his role in the fight against Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar on Sept. 3, 1650, and was one of the many who were shipped to a convict colony on the island of Barbados, West Indies.
Two years later, he was sent to Maryland to finish out his prison sentence, being indentured to landowner Richard Hall. He fulfilled this indenture and later served as a lieutenant on Lord Baltimores yacht of war, Loyal Charles. During a terrible storm, he saved Baltimores life.
To show his gratitude, Baltimore deeded Ninian 795 acres of land near Washington City. In fact, today most of it is called Georgetown. Ever heard of it? Ninian called it ‘The Rock of Dumbarton’ in honor of his home in Scotland.
When the British attacked Washington and set fire to the presidents house in August of 1814, it was to the Beall Lodge that Dolly Madison fled. Built by Ninian more than a century earlier, this home remained in the family for several generations.
The national headquarters of the Colonial Dames sits on part of the original tract. In fact, they named their headquarters ‘Dumbarton House.’
Many emigrants, including John Forbes and Ninian Beall, were dragged to America kicking and screaming, and wound up making vast contributions to our nation.