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Jean Corbeau of Pennsylvania – Part 1

We begin our journey down the family tree with a man who I believe could be our Curbow immigrating ancestor.  He is, in my opinion, a much stronger candidate than the Jean Carrieŕe mentioned in the 1949 newspaper article I detailed in yesterday’s blog post.  Of course, nothing is definitive and much more research needs to be performed and much more proof must be uncovered before we can tie him into our family line.

According to historical passenger and immigration lists, we know that a Jean Corbo (sometimes indexed in German as Johan Carbo) arrived October 5, 1737 at the Port of Philadelphia on the ship Billender Townshend from Amsterdam after a layover in Cowes, England. (Unfortunately, no women or children were listed on this particular ship’s manifest – only the men are listed). The captain did note however that there were 231 people on board and that they were Palentines.   The captain’s notes on the ship’s manifest read as follows:  Palatines imported in the Ship Billinder Townshend, Thomas Thompson, Master, from Amsterdam, but last from Cowes, as by Clearance thense. Qualified the 5th day of October 1737.” And further:  At the Courthouse of Philadelphia, October 5, 1737. Present: The Honorable James Logan, Esq., President; Ralph Assheton, Thomas Griffitts; Samuel Hasell. The Palatines whose names are underwritten, imported in the Billender Townshend, Thomas Thompson, Master, from Amsterdam, but last from Cowes, did this day take and subscribe the Oaths to the Government.” [Signers of the Oath of Allegiance to England] It appears that Jean Corbo did not sign the Oath of Abjuration. [Abjure – to solemnly renounce (a belief, cause or claim).]

From a publication entitled, History of the Clewell Family (published 1907) we get a glimpse into what Jean Corbeau’s voyage to the new world must have been like.  The Clewell’s ancestor, Louisa Franz Clewell was on board the Billender Townshend along with her two sons Franz and George.  It is stated that:  The Billender Towhshead anchored in the Delaware at Philadelphia on Saturday, October 5, 1737, from Amsterdam, Holland (page 21).  The account continues: According to tradition the voyage was a stormy one. Storm after storm overtook them and during one of these storms Johannes G’Fellern (Louisa’s husband) was drowned (page 24).

From the Captain’s list we know that on that same day all male passengers over the age of 16, including Jean Corbo, were taken to the Courthouse in Philadelphia to take the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown. (From this record we know that Jean had to have been at least 16 years old to take the oath – so born at least by 1721; however, he was probably older because he was the only male Corbo/Carbo on the ship. In other words, he was not traveling with a father, uncle or older brother.)

Captain’s Ship Manifest – Billender Townshend – 10/5/1737

John Corbo’s Name as it appears on the Ship’s Manifest

There are numerous books which chronicle the early arrivals to the Port of Philadelphia, including, Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, Volume I and Memorials of the Huguenots in America: With Special Reference to Their Emigration to Pennsylvania, both include a listing for Jean Corbo who arrived 1737 and settled in Pennsylvania. While the name Corbo or Carbo is not a proven or accepted name by the American Huguenot Society, it does appear that both the Germans and the Huguenots are claiming Jean Corbo/Johann Carbo in the two referenced books.

A brief historical review of the German Palatines indicates that they were early 18th century emigrants from the Middle Rhine region of the Holy Roman Empire (which is present day southwest Germany).  Toward the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century, this region was repeatedly invaded by the French military which resulted in widespread devastation and famine to this once wealthy region.  As early as 1709, the English began making promises of free land in the American Colonies, and this in turn triggered a mass exodus of these impoverished and desperate people.  In response, the English began a program of resettling these Germans in England, Ireland (County Limerick and County Wexford) and the Colonies (first to New York and later Pennsylvania).  (Again, it is important to note that during this time period all German emigrants were referred to as “Palatines.”)

It is entirely possible that Jean Corbo was what became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch).  The Pennsylvania Dutch were a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania.  The true origin of the Pennsylvania Dutch is often confused – because the people known as the Pennsylvania Dutch are not from Holland but rather are of a mixture of German, Swiss, and French Huguenot origin.  The first wave of these settlers began in the late 17th century and concluded in the late 18th century.  Again, the majority of these immigrants originated in what is today southwestern Germany.  The first major settlement of Pennsylvania Dutch was located in northwest Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.  Many of these Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants then migrated down the Great Wagon Road into North Carolina.  This was particularly true after North Carolina established a “headright system” in the late 1700s where the state gave away one hundred acres to male heads of household who were willing to settle in western parts of the state.   Germans being a frugal people leapt at the opportunity of the free land being offered.  The Germans of western North Carolina generally migrated from Pennsylvania to the Yadkin River Valley.  This very closely follows the believed migration pattern of our Curbow ancestors.

Looking back at the passenger named Jean Corbo who arrived in 1737 on the Billinder Townshend – there are indeed some very interesting and compelling parallels between him and the history of the German Palatines, the Pennsylvania Dutch and their migration patterns.  In looking at the other passengers who arrived on the Billinder Townshend with Jean, it appears that many of them ended up in Philadelphia County (present day Berks County), Pennsylvania and that many of them originated from Friedrichstal, Germany.

In the Spring, 1973 issue of Pennsylvania Folklife, in an article entitled, Pennsylvania Emigrants from Friedrichstal, we learn that Friedrichstal, Germany was founded in 1699 specifically for Huguenot refugees.  In honor of Friedrichstal’s 250th birthday celebration, author Oskar Hornung wrote a town history (Friedrichstal:  Geschichte einer Hugenottengemeinde zur 250 Jahrfeier).  This book contains information on most of the founding families of Friedrichstal, and among them we find a Jean Corbeau.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate the book here in America – most copies are located in Germany.  Thankfully, it is among the collection of the LDS library, and I have ordered the film for review.  Luckily, I can read German, and I am very hopeful that we may glean more information about Jean Corbeau and his family.  I’ll update this post after I have reviewed the film  In the meantime, the referenced article  states that Jean Corbeau was a farmer with a family and that he arrived with them on the Ship Townsend at Philadelphia on October 5, 1737.

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Based on this article we can conclude that Jean Corbeau of Friedrichstal, Germany was a French Huguenot and that he and Jean Corbo of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania are one and the same person.

Can we conclude that Jean Corbeau is our immigrating ancestor?  No – but stay tuned for Part 2 – Jean Corbeau – Pennsylvania Land Records.

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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Curbow

 

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