The Original 13

Growing up, from time to time, I would stay with my aunt and her family in Germantown, Pennsylvania. I won’t mention how many years ago that was, but I will tell you those visits gave me many fond memories. Those remembrances have stayed with me until this day. I often thought about the huge three and four-story grey stone single and semi-attached homes on tree-lined streets. The feel of an old neighborhood with ivy growing on the front gardens and huge honeysuckle blooming in the backyard, in the winter the unique smell of burning fireplaces. Each season had its scent that stayed with me throughout my life. If I compare it to the new construction ranchers that my family resided in with the only strong odor was that of pig farms, if the wind blew a certain way. In time, my Aunt’s family moved closer to Lancaster, PA., and I would stay with them in that beautiful area, but I always missed Germantown.

So, what does this have to do with Genealogy? I never dreamed that my family research would take me back to the year 1683 in Germantown! As my aunt moved there for the husband, my uncle by marriage. After approximately 15 years of researching on various websites, I soon found out that my roots were strangely attached to that area.

After an extensive search on my mother’s side of the family who settled in the Pennsylvania Dutch area. My mom was experiencing ill health and I wanted to be able to give her some information about her genealogy before she passed on. She had many questions. My searching led me to the “Original 13”, as they are labeled in history. The “Orginal 13” are the first 13 families of German immigrants that came to this country for independence. They sailed on the ship named “The Concord” that landed in Philadelphia on October 6, 1683. They ironically were the first immigrants to colonize Germantown! The same town that I fell in love with as a child. Perhaps as a child, I experienced feeling the vibes of the earth below me, where the 13 families had all personally dug and resided in caves. The old oak trees that I appreciated so much were probably planted by them, the charming cobblestone roads and brick sidewalks, that I walked on, were probably laid by them. Were my ancestors reaching out to send me a message? Were they saying, “One day you’ll know why you feel a strong connection here?”

My relation to the “Orginal 13” was Abraham Tunes Klinken (also spelled Klincken). Just in case you are curious, let me give you a heads up, it can be a struggle to search for German ancestors! Their surnames spellings were changed within families, so Tunes (Abraham’s middle name) for example could also be spelled Tunis or Tennis. In my experience, each German surname from that period has approximately three to five different spellings, maybe even more! Their contribution to Germantown was honored by a monument that is still standing, the names of each” 13” family listed. My next “must see” when I’m visiting the area of my heritage!

This exciting “find” doesn’t happen every day in our genealogy research world, but when we do find something impressive about our family tree, we can’t help but get excited, right? My personal thoughts are that I probably share DNA with one of those 13 brave families and it could possibly explain why I’m passionate about my own independence. Each one of those 13 families possessed a fierce belief in freedom and they were willing, regardless of the risks, to stand by their convictions.

Genealogy isn’t always just recording dry details, such as birthdates. As your family tree becomes fuller, it will unfold a tale of who you are as a person. Just keep searching, you never know what you’ll find!

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