An American Family History

The Year of the Destroying Angels

  from Beyond Germanna, "The Year of the Destroying Angels-1738,"  Volume 10, Number 1, January 1998 by Klaus Wust  
  Johann Jacob Brandstetter came to America with Walter Goodman on the Robert & Alice.  
Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.

German emigration to America was marked by considerable deprivation, sickness and death. The situation in 1738 was even worse than usual and earned the reputation as the Year of the Destroying Angels, a reference to Psalm 78, verse 49. 

At that time unofficial family or village groups set out for Holland to find British ships to take them to America. Passengers signed a contract to pay their fares within a designated time. In 1738 there were greater numbers of emigrants than ever. When the Palatines reached Dutch territory in April, 1738, they were not permitted to enter the city of Rotterdam. They went to a holding area where no preparations had been made. On May 13th Kralingen officals petitioned to have the Palatines sent back or speedily embarked. The emigrants, many of them sickly by that time, were at the mercy of the shippers, even as to the final destination. Many died on the voyage and those arriving were sick and starving.

Captain Walter Goodman of the Robert & Alice sent a letter to Germany on October 19th

On the 4th of July last I sailed out of Dover in England and arrived here on this river on the 9th of September with crew and passengers in good health but on the way I had many sick people, yet, since not more than 18 died, we lost by far the least of all the ships arrived to-date.We were the third ship to arrive. I sailed in company with four of the skippers who together had 425 deaths...

The Palatinate is a region in south-western Germany. Many thousands of Palatine immigrants were driven out of Germany by war, famine, despotic rule and disease. They were attracted to Pennsylvania by the first settlers who sent back favorable reports.


Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2023
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