As early as 1677, William Penn visited the Rhineland (now Germany), urging people to seek peace and security in the Province of Pennsylvania. After obtaining a royal charter in 1681, Penn and his agents actively recruited settlers to Pennsylvania, which had principles of religious toleration and a climate and soil similar to the Palatinate (a region of the Rhineland).
Between 1727 and 1775, over 300 ships carried thousands of emigrants away from the ongoing warfare between princes, high taxes to support the monarchy, and marauding armies. Passenger lists exist for only 138 of these ships, usually listing only males over 16 years old because they were required to swear allegiance to the British Crown when they landed in the British Colonies.
Benedikt Leyenberger was born in the Palatinate in the Rhineland @ 1670. His son Nicholas Leyenberger (@1707-@1765) and Maria Catharina [maiden name unknown] married in 1727 in Brenschelback in the Saarland in the Palatinate, in the Hornback Reformed (Lutheran) Church.
In 1739, Nicholas and Maria emigrated to the British Colonies in America. Passage cost about $175, payable to the sailing ship’s captain upon arrival either in cash, or by indentured labor.
The arduous journey had three parts and each could take several months. Many passengers, especially young children, did not survive the trip.
Spelling being variable in the 18th century, Nikolaus Leyenberger is probably the “Nikolas Leyberger” listed as a passenger on the Snow Betsy that arrived in Philadelphia from Deal, England on August 27, 1739.
Nikolas Leyenberger was in his early 30’s and accompanied by his wife and their two young sons, Nicholas and Ludwick. Years later, great-grandson Elijah F. Lybarger was told by his grandfather that Nicholas and his wife had come on the “indenture plan” and worked three years to pay it off, in either Virginia or Maryland.
Nikolaus and Maria Catharina and their 2 sons moved west to farm in York County, Pennsylvania. A third son, John George Lybarger, was born in 1841. The positive characteristics of Pennsylvania Germans were described by Benjamin Rush (a Pennsylvania physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence) as a model for all citizens in the new country.