Thursday, November 12, 2015

Honoring Soldiers From Generations Past

Vonnie (Seilheimer) Davis
Ten generations ago, Nicholas Johann Seilheimer walked eight miles to board a boat to travel from his home in Framersheim, Germany bound for Rotterdam, Holland. His destination, the New World. On that boat ride on the Rhine, he met Marslia Elizabeth Pohl of Hausland, Germany. Whether it was a whirlwind courtship or two scared strangers, who thought they'd fare better in a new land as a couple, I don't know, but my immigrant ancestors were married when they reached Rotterdam on September 8, 1773. They stepped aboard "The Charming Molly" and sailed for Philadelphia, landing on October 22, 1773.

A point of humor here. What does the name Seilheimer mean? Someone of wisdom? Someone of grace? A person who does good for the community? Sadly, no. It means someone who makes rope at home.

With the coming of the Revolutionary War, Nicholas enlisted in the Pennsylvania Regiment of Artillery in 1777. The first battle in which he participated was the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. It was a rough day for the Colonial Army, and those who survived at day's end left their cannons behind. Nicholas struggled to save his--oh, we Germans are stubborn. For his efforts, George Washington gave him a medal and he was promoted into Washington's private guard.

Nicholas survived the war and, later, took part in the Whiskey Rebellion. Family records do not indicate which side he fought on in that skirmish.

My immigrating ancestors bore eight children and lived their time in the new world in various parts of Pennsylvania--Philadelphia, Lancaster and Chambersburg.

Vonnie Davis writes for Random House Loveswept. Visit her website at www.vonniedavis.com.

12 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

Us Germans are a hardy lot, aren't we? Nicholas possessed courage to be proud of. A great ancestor to be sure. And Washington's inner circle to boot. -;)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Yes, my father's younger brother was really into genealogy. He did the research at the Library of Congress and wrote a book for our extended family.

Jannine Gallant said...

A worthy ancestor, Vonnie! Quite a few years ago I did a lot of genealogy research. So much fun to find colorful characters in our past--and I found a lot of them! One of my ancestors was the guy who yelled at the troops to fire "the shot heard round the world" at the Old North Bridge. I'd love to really organize all the information I collected, but I had to give up genealogy when I started publishing books.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I always thought it would be interesting to use Nicholas and Marsila's meeting and quick marriage as a basis for a romance novel, but publishers aren't interested in that period of history. I'd have to self-publish that one.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Oh, Vonnie, that romance (Nicholas and Marsila's) sounds like fun! You'd do them proud. I come from Scandinavian stock...my grandparents and my dad were named Skjellum and at Ellis Island, the clerks decided Shellum was easier to say/spell/fit in the U.S. I'm lucky to have a whole town in Norway full of Skjellums. And you're right, wonderful stories abound about what it meant to be a Norwegian crofter (read that as 'serf')...which is why they all came to the U.S. Thanks for the ideas to write about these brave folk!

Jannine Gallant said...

Soooo irritating that the pubs reject certain periods of history as not marketable. They did that to me with my Salem witchcraft trial book (which I self-published) and it's my ONLY book that still sells steadily a year and a half later. So, what do they know! Write about your ancestors if you want. It might just be your biggest seller.

Leah St. James said...

The Colonial American period is one of my favorites. When you think about the odds of this tiny group of "Americans" against the British Empire, it's a staggering thought. How brave they were. I'd love a book about your ancestors. What a cool story!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Rolynn, why not write about them? Bring them to life again, adding some twists and turns that probably didn't happen. Speculative fiction, it's called. I simply refer to them as "what if" stories. What if this had happened. It might have...kinda.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Jannine, I know a group of Western history writers who pen awesome cowboy books and self-publish them because so many publishers turn their noses up at them. Yet many readers love those stories.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Leah. Their meeting aboard that boat and marrying a few days later has always intrigued the romantic in me.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Vonnie. You are so damn up-beat...we should always hang together, since I am, too. But we might drive Calvin and my husband nuts...oh who cares!

Diane Burton said...

What a charming story. How wonderful that you know so much about your ancestors. Hubs and I have done a lot of research into our ancestors, too. It's so interesting.