|Image source & Family History link|
The reason for this is probably due to several factors:
- Many European immigrants adopted a phonetic English spelling upon arrival in colonial America.
- Some may have been illiterate and depended on others to record family names, but it must be said that the majority of our German immigrant ancestors were educated and often multilingual.
- After the Hessian/Deutch conflicts of revolutionary and more modern war times, many German surnames became intentionally anglicized to avoid negative impact on long-established Euro-American families.
But let's get back to the subject of this post -Thones Kunders. Drawing on my abysmally umlautish college German lessons, I am inclined to attribute the recording of "Dennis" for Thones' name in the ancestral records to the simple fact that the two names are pronounced similarly. But, anglicization aside, urgrossvater Thones was one more of our family's many ordinary 17th Century immigrants who made extra-ordinary contributions to the founding of America.
Thones Kunders and his family arrived in America in October, 1683 aboard the ship "Concord." Thones was one of thirteen men who, with their related families emigrated from Krefeld, a city near the German-Holland border of the Rhine valley to settle on lands purchased by the Frankfort Company from William Penn. Their settlement was appropriately named "Germantown." Within weeks, the 6,000 acres were divided into lots as described years later:
|Source: Rgsmith2b at en.wikipedia (dot marks Thones Kunders lot)|
"We whose names are to these presents subscribed, do hereby certify unto all whom
it may concern, that soon after our arrival in this province of Pennsylvania, in
October, 1683, to our certain knowledge, Herman Op den Graeff, Dirk Op den
Graeff, and Abraham Op den Graeff, as well as ourselves, in the cave of Francis
Daniel Pastorius at Philadelphia, did cast lots for the respective lots which
they and we then began to settle in Germantown, and the said Graeffs (three
brothers) have sold their several lots, each by himself, no less than if a
division in writing had been made by them.
Witness our hands this 29th Nov. A. D. 1709. Lenart Arets, Jan Lensen, Thones
Kunders, Willem Streypers, Abraham Tunes, Jan Lucken, Reiner Tysen."
These immigrants were mostly Mennonite and Quaker, bringing with them skill in weaving linens and a strong work ethic. (Thones was a dyer by trade.) They wintered through hardship and privation in makeshift shelters bolstered by community and faith to see the spring of a new life in America.
In 1797 Robert Proud published History of Pennsylvania in which he noted:
An excerpt from the document, written in English and composed on Thones' table (which still survives) on April 18, 1688:
"There is a saying that we shall doe to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are. And those who steal or rob men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not alike? Here is liberty of conscience wch is right and reasonable; here ought to be likewise liberty of ye body, except of evil-doers, wch is an other case. But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against." (signers: Francis Daniell Pastorius, Garret Hendericks, Derick Op den Graeff, and Abraham Op den Graef)
|The anti-slavery document drafted at Thones Kunders' house 1688 (front/back)|
Bender, Harold S. "Germantown Mennonite Settlement (Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 14 Apr 2014.
Thiessen, Richard D. "Concord (Ship)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2013. Web. 14 Apr 2014.