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Beck, Jeffrey
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McInturff, Christopher
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Meckendorfer, Johannes
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Ancestor of the Month
December 2006

 

Johannes (Meckendorfer) McInterfeer

b. 1707     d.?

 

Johannes McInterfeer is yet another of our ancestors with blank spots in his life. Luckily, his “blank spots’ were shared by thousands of other colonists; therefore we are able to make educated guesses at what his life may have been like when we don’t know all the facts for certain.

 

Parents

 

Johannes was the son of Hans Georg Meckendorfer  (1650/55-11 Apr 1711) and Veronica Meier  (aft.1655-aft.1730), Veronica, the daughter of Hans Meier, was from Switzerland and married Georg in 1700.  She was Georg’s third wife.  Georg’s first wife was Elizabeth Burckle. They were married 18 Feb 1678/79 in Neckarau, Germany and had four children:  Anna Barbara, Anna Ursula, Eva Margaretha and Elizabetha. His second marriage was to Ottilia Schaffeer.  They were married 11 Jul 1693 in Neckarau and. their children were Hans Velten and Anna Catharina.  Veronica and Georg had four children:  Johannes, Hans Adam, Mattheus, and Anna Margaretha.

 

German Names and Spelling

 

(A note about names:  During the Seventeenth Century in Germany it was common for many German families to name all their sons and daughters after a saint and then add another given name by which the child would be known.   Thus a family’s sons might be Hans Georg, Hans Josef, and Hans Adam.  Their daughters might be Anna Margaretha, Anna Barbara, and Anna Catherina.  If this were not confusing enough, the families sometimes followed a traditional formula for naming their children.  A certain numbered son was named after his paternal grandfather.  Another was named after his maternal grandfather.  Still another was named after his father.   A certain daughter was to be named after her maternal grandmother, and so forth.  If a person happened to be married more than once and insisted on following these traditional naming practices, it was possible to have two children with the same names but with different mothers.)

 

(A note about spelling:  As with many of the German immigrants, Johannes’ surname was spelled in many new ways, depending on the person recording the name.  In the German church records, Johannes’ surname is spelled Meckendorfer but his name on the Allen’s passenger list is spelled McIndorfer   He and his future family members found their names spelled McInterfeer, McInterfer, McInturf, Macenturf, McIntoffer, McKenturf and other versions.  Although German surnames seem to have been particularly difficult for others to spell, phonetic spellings were the rule of the day.  A person might even spell his own name two or three different ways on one document.  Standardized spelling was to come a bit later

 

Johannes’ family

 

Like his father, Johannes had three wives and several children.  His first marriage was in Neckarau.  His wife was Veronica or Phronick Unknown (1795-1744.)  (Some sources list her name as Veronica Phronic.  On the ship’s passenger list, she is listed as Phronik Mickenturfer.)  Their children were Johannes (John I), Maria Dorothea, and Maria Elizabetha.    These children were born in Pennsylvania.  John was born in 1729, the same year as their arrival (15 Sep 1729), so Phronick must have been pregnant during the voyage.  Some of the ship’s passenger lists show two children with the couple, but their names are Anna Margetha Mackin and Phillipina Mackin and may just be an educated guess on the part of a researcher as no other Phillipina was found).

 

The Palantine area

The Meckendorfer family had lived for generations in the Baden region of Germany.  Baden is part of the Palantine area and has had a most bloody history. The name Palatine came from the Romans who appointed officials called Palatines to govern the area.   Geographically, the area includes the Rhine, Neckar, and Naab River Valleys of Germany, though many sources simply mention the Rhine River Valley only.  The word Palantine refers to the area, the word Palatine refers to the people who lived there

Palatine History

In early times the Palantine area was fertile, full of orchards, vineyards, and farmlands. In addition to those skillful in agriculture, the people who lived there were craftsmen, artisans, and other skilled workers. The land and its people were valuable and desirable. Perhaps for these reasons it became the pawn in a series of bloody conflicts in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. The conflicts were primarily over religion and carried over into the early Eighteenth Century. The region was Protestant, but various sects were considered fanatical and were ostracized and persecuted.  If a Catholic ruler (through warfare, for example) came to power over the region, the persecutions became almost genocides. People were drowned, hanged, and burned. Homes, farms and towns were destroyed. People lost their homes and all their possessions. The land itself was “scorched.”  Sometimes when war swept the area, even churches were taken from one religion and given to another that was in favor with the government even though no one in the region belonged to the second religion.

 

Johannes’ Family’s Religion

 

The Meckendorfers were members of the German Reformed church. On 27 May 1653, Christoffel Meckendorfer, Johannes’ grandfather, certified that he wished to convert from the Catholic faith to the Reformed faith and that he renounced any “Papist leanings.” Johannes himself was confirmed in 1717 in the Reformed church when he was fourteen years old Today these records are in the Evangelische Oberkirchenrat  or church archives in Karlsruhe, Germany.

 

Separatist and Radical Movements

 

Within the German Reformed church were people who wanted even more reform and purification of the church—similar to the Pilgrims in England. One such group was the Church of the Brethren, and within it was a more radical group headed by Alexander Mack. The smaller group came to be called the Baptist Brethren and was given the name “Dunkers” because the members believed in total immersion for baptism.  In general, the Baptist Brethren were a very peaceful, non-militant group. They were similar to the Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers.  Soon, however,  they were under attack from the government.  Alexander Mack was a great speaker and charismatic leader.  He traveled around Germany and soon had gathered quite a following.  When it became clear that the political-religious situation would grow continually worse, Alexander convinced his followers that their salvation would be to travel to the New World where they could practice their religion in peace.  In Germany they had suffered extreme persecution. Over two thousand members of their larger group, the Church of the Brethren, had been executed

 

German Migration

 

It is perhaps surprising for those of us in modern times to learn that the largest group of immigrants to the colonies during the colonial period was from Germany. Thousands of refugees from the Palantine region flooded England where Queen Anne gave them sanctuary, and large groups even found their way to Ireland and Russia. At one point 13,000 of these refugees were in England and half of them made their way to America.  William Penn went to the Palantine and expounded on the advantages of moving to America. Many Germans remembered his words. South Carolina, as we know from our ancestor Benedictus Kuhn, actively recruited German immigrants with the unmentioned intention of giving them lands in a buffer area between the hostile Indians and the English coastal colonists.  When Queen Anne made arrangements to send some of the German refugees to New York, it was with the understanding that they, too, would be part of a “buffer zone.”

 

.A big wave of the Palatine immigrants came to the colonies from Germany in 1607 and continued until 1627 Those migrating at this time were not destitute.  Like the Pilgrims, most of these Palatines took with them household goods, other supplies, and even animals and chickens. Many even had a flat five-sided stove that could be folded and later opened to fit into a fireplace like an oven. Later refugees (after 1630) who emigrated from Germany had nothing except the clothes on their backs. The early emigrants took small unsafe vessels down the Rhine to Amsterdam or Rotterdam and found passage on larger ships bound for America.  The earlier refugees were generally Mennonites, Amish, Quakers, and Baptist Brethren.  Those after 1630 were primarily Lutherans and Calvinists.  The early refugees almost all came for religious freedom; the later groups almost all had to come as poverty stricken indentured servants, often resulting in the break up of families.

 

Johannes travels to America

 

In 1629, Johannes left the Palantine area and sailed from Rotterdam with a group of Baptist Brethren headed by Alexander Mack. Johannes and his wife are listed with the Mack group on the passenger list of the ship Allen.   We do not have proof that he was a certified member of the Brethren, and other Palatines may have sailed aboard the same ship, but there were only 126 on board. The lists show that 59 men were ”Palatines” and that their wives and children brought the total on board to 126.  No distinction is made between the “Dunkers” and the rest of the group.  The refugees sailed from Rotterdam on board the Allen in early September of 1629.  The captain of the ship was James Craige.  They left Rotterdam and stopped in Cowes on the Isle of Wight to make their final preparations for the two-month voyage to America.  The ship’s passenger list shows Johannes McIndorfer and Phronik Mickenterfer as two of the passengers when the Allen left Cowes on 7 Jul 1629.

 

Pioneer hardships

 

These German immigrants had hardships that the English colonists did not have, and the biggest of these was language. There are tales of families being cheated out of their land.   Most tended to keep to themselves and provided the base for the modern day Pennsylvania Dutch. (Pennsylvania Dutch is a misnomer. The name came about because the German word Deutsche means “common or vulgar” and was used to describe the common German language that was used in the Reform churches instead of the more “lofty” Latin used in Catholic churches. Later Deutschland came to be the German name for Germany and Deutsch became a synonym for German.  English colonists mispronounced Deutsche as Dutch. Our early PA immigrants were not, as one might suspect, from the Netherlands (Dutch); they were from Germany (Deutsche).

 

Life in Philadelphia

 

When the Allen arrived in Philadelphia 15 Sep 1629, passengers were asked to sign an oath of allegiance, as was common practice.  The section of Pennsylvania where most of the Allen passengers settled eventually came to be called Germantown, and was officially given that name in 1677.   Here Johannes lived with his wife and family. After Phronik (or Veronica) died in 1744 at age thirty-nine, Johannes married  Roseannah Unknown in 1745.  Roseannah had been born in Germany.  The couple had several children:  Hans Jurg Georg McInturf (1746-1822) ,  Christopher McInturf, b. 1748,   George McInturf b. 1749,  John II McInturf, b. 1750  (John I, our ancestor, was born in 1729 and was the son of Phronick.  John I’s name was spelled McAnturf in revolutionary army records), Casper McInturf b. 1751, Frederick McInturf b. 1754,  Daniel McInturf (08 Sep 1756-25 Nov 1803), David McInturf b. 1762, and Margaet McInturf, b. 1764. (Update 17 Sep 2007:  Birth and death dates for these children seem to be different on almost every source consulted.  Even the children’s names vary   Double or triple check before using.)

 

After Roseannah  died, Johannes married Dorothea UNKNOWN   (Some sources give a different order of the marriages and some show no children for Roseannah.  The order used above is based in part on Hans Jurg’s birthdate and could easily be incorrect.  Every source we checked was different.  If one of the “cousins” knows the truth about Johannes’ children and wives, please let us know via the guest book) 

              

Pioneer Life

 

The German settlers were among the first to build the log cabins we associate with pioneers. The Swedish colonists in Delaware were actually the first, but the Germans in PA were close behind. We can assume, therefore, that Johannes and his family built a log cabin. German settlers sometimes built their cabins over a spring or stream so that they would have a source of water. Hopefully the Meckendorfer  family (by now the McInterfeer family) had a snug cabin over a spring with an iron five-sided oven in their fireplace.

 

Although the plan had been to stay in the Germantown area, some things did not work out. The Mennonites, Amish, and others who had originally shared buildings of worship had a falling out, and some began to move. Others began to move because of being cheated on their lands and other dealings.  Some sources report that many families took at least three generations to learn English, and although this refusal to learn English was by choice, that choice intensified their problems.

 

Moving On

 

Sometime before 1780, John McAnturf, Johannes’ son, took his family, left Pennsylvania, and joined the German migration to the South and West.  They ended up in the Shenandoah Valley where they became influential in the area.  It was from this area that Johannes’ descendents would make their way to Tennessee.  They, like their fellow Palatine refugees, were frugal, hard working people who were able to adapt and make do with little or nothing.  They were able to survive and even prosper when faced with hardship and adversity.

 

Johannes McInterfeer was John McAnturff’s father.  John was the first McInturff to move to TN.  Johannes McInterfeer was Mary “Granny Tuck” McInturff Hatcher’s 3 great grandfather.  He was Mamaw McCarter’s 5 great grandfather.

 

Line of Descent from Johannes McInterfeer to Mary Elizabeth Hatcher

 

Johannes McInterfeer (1707-?) + Phronick or Veronica Unknown

John Macanturff (1729-1779) + Maria Rosina Kern (1735-1780)

Christopher McInturff (1753-1814) + Christina Unknown (c1753-?)

Israel McInturff (c1776-1851) + Unknown

Israel McInturff, II (1805-1845) + Elizabeth Webb (1808-1881)

Mary Elizabeth McInturff (1837-1915) + James H. Hatcher (1839-1856)

Israel Alexander Hatcher (1860-1950) + Susan Ann Sutton (1866-1903)

Mary Elizabeth Hatcher + Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955)

 

Sources:

 

 70,3753 Individuals Western NC and East TN http://genealogy.com/users/n/a/v/bill-nancy/COL8.htm

 

Descendants of Christoffel Meckendorfer

www.genealogy.com/genealogy/users/s/y/k/denise-annette-sykeswilson/index/html

 

Garman, Gene.  “The Poor Palatines” www.sunnetworks.net/~ggarman/palatine.html

 

Keerchner, Char. Jr.  GERMNAM.htm  (Palantine German names.  18th Century Pennsylvania German Naming Customs & Patterns les F

http://www.kerchner.com/germname.htm   

 

http://ferry.polymer.uakron.edu/genealogy/cgi-bin/igmget.cgi/n=Davis?I20997

 

http://www.ristenbatt.com/genealogy/shiplst9.htm

 

McInturff and Some Allied Families http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com?~mcinturff/index.3htm.

 

McInturff family sheets and charts

 

memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/german2.html

 

Meyer, Rachel.  “Who Were the Palantines?”

 

Nettles, Curtis P.  “Pioneering in America.”  Colliers Encyclopedia,  1998.  Sierra On-line Inc.

 

PA German Passenger Lists—Allen 1729.  The Palatine Project.  www.progenealogists.com/pal project/p~/index.html

 

Palatine/Palantine

wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

 

”Palatine Migration.”  Wikipedia

 

Ship lists

Rootsweb.com/~Genhome/shipol.htm

 

Thomas Stobels Relatives, Their Ancestors and Related Families http://worldconnect.genealogyrootsweb.com/cgo-brn/igm.cgi?

 

www.genealogy.com/users/s4/k/denise-AnnetteSykeswilsonn/FTLE/9919page.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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