Monday, March 28, 2016

A Family Bible From 1568

     Eve Umstadt, wife of Hendrick Pannebecker, was born on March 21, 1676 in Germany.  When she was only nine years old, on August 16, 1685, she boarded the ship "Francis and Dorothy" and headed to America with her parents and her brother and sister.  The family arrived in the area of Philadelphia on October 12.  They had left because of fear of religious persecution for their protestant beliefs, enticed by stories of the freedom and possibility of financial gain in the New World.
     Eve's father, Hans Peter Umstadt, brought his most prized possession with him on the long voyage, a Bible in which he, and his father, Nicholas Umstadt, had written important life events.  Pictures of the Bible and transcriptions of the notes written in German on its pages can be viewed at  The Bible was printed in Heidleberg in the year 1568 and had been passed down at least two generations before it came to belong to Hans Peter Umstadt.  The Bible then came down through the Pannebecker family, and today is housed at Pennypacker Mills, though not available for viewing except by special permission.  I would love to include a photo of the Bible, but the "Umstead Family Organization" owns the copyright to all the photos I have found, so I encourage you to visit their site or just Google "Umstadt Bible."
     Some of the interesting notations include:  a note about the winter of 1658 being so bitter that the Rhine River froze solid and a snowstorm lasted four days; the great comet that streamed across the sky in 1680; and the dates of death for family members.
     It is very humbling to think of my ancestors, living in fear of persecution for the same Reformed beliefs to which I subscribe, and of them being willing to leave their family and country in order to be able to worship as they choose.  I pray that I will also leave a spiritual legacy worthy of their sacrifice.
   The Umstadt Family Tree is attached below.



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