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Rev. John Gissendanner Letter of 1737 From SC
Posted by: John Howell (ID *****6409) Date: January 03, 2005 at 16:07:23
  of 692

Giezendanner to Paravicini, April 23, 1737]

"Dearly beloved friend in Christ!

O, I can't describe how much I have to talk about with you - the
reasons for my making this long trip, and what happened before, during,
and after it! I'll have to describe briefly something (the truth) about it, as I
experienced it and as I see it before God. After we had spend 23 weeks on
the journey - partly due to problems in England and Holland, and 10 (12) weeks
of it at sea - we arrived here the first of February (O.S.), with most of
us, Praise God, in good health. In all only 3 infants and one girl (daughter) died.
We had a right good Captain and also a good crew, who still visit us.
The 16th and 17th of January we had a great storm, day and night, so we
were nailed into the hold in order to keep the water out. Since we were
212 souls and the space was very small, we thought we would surely die.
And the captain told us afterwards that the ship had been a man's height
under water. So we had to cry to the Lord from the depths in the belly
of the sea, and necessity taught us to pray.
Since our minister from the Appenzell area travelled in the
captain's cabin and was sick (most of the time), I had to hold prayer services with the
people mornings and evenings. The Devil through evil men raged furiously
against us, but God fortified me and brought my eleven travellers happily
through, so that despite all inner and outer tempests, and changes in
food, water, and air, we were seldom sick and mostly well.
When we arrived, the government received us at once with love
and distributed provisions to us. But our group ruined it and disputed
with one another. Scouts were sent out to spot the best land. This gave
a big advantage. Then only eight days ago the Appenzell people, with two
families from Toggenburg, left in 4 boats for Savannah, 190 English miles
from here. Five hours journey from here one of the boats with provisions
(and with the pastor's son-in-law, daughter, and children) sank so that
they were in water up to their necks. But, Praise God, they all were
rescued. The people from the Rheintal have been sent to Friedensburg and
Port Royal as a volunteer garrison with good pay.
I have separated myself from the group and will remain here in
peace with my family until I know where the dear God will have me or to
what use he will put me. The rumor is that there are some extremely good
parts of the country, others not so good, and some others so bad that
everything is scorched in the ground. One has to learn everything for
himself. Meanwhile I have received a room and garden here for which I
pay one pound or twenty batzen a week. I support myself by my profession.
The crops we sowed seven weeks ago are already nice and high. Flax,
hemp, peas, etc. But because of the godless life here the land will be
made unfruitful. The poor Moors are very severely treated as slaves by
the Christians. And unfortunately, the Christians usually give great
offense to those savages who lead an honest and quiet life, through greed,
usury, etc.
If I hadn't begun my trip with much prayer, I don't know how I
could bear it. Otherwise, though, the people keep their word about
spiritual and physical freedom, and about the 50 jucharten of land. But
since the people become a burden to the government through begging,
dishonest bargaining, and high living, and don't get right down to work,
in the future only the land will be given to them, and no provisions set
aside for them. I report this to you in order that you can make it known
in Switzerland so that poor people won't get off to a bad start. I have
gotten to know many Basel people here in the province, and also many
Swiss, who emphasize that people in Switzerland don't know the real
There are 80 German families here, and also Orangeburgers,
among them many poor people, who, since they have no regular minister at
the hand, have suggested to me that I stay with them and hold spiritual
exercises with them every Sunday. I want to see what God ordains in this
Thus I have tried to give a report as briefly as possible.
Heartfelt greetings to you and all your loved ones, and commendation to
God from
John Ulrich Giezendanner, goldsmith from Toggenburg.
At present the widow of Nicholas Dillen, rifleman from Bruttelen,
is here. She lives nearby (next to me) on a little farm. She sends you her greetings
and asks that you greet her people and tell them that it took her fifteen
weeks to cross the ocean and that her husband died ten days after they
reach Charleston. Had he lived, he would have had to earn the balance of
their travel cost. Two weeks earlier two of her children died on board
the ship. She is going to stay here with the remaining four children as
long as it pleases God to let her. One should bear her lovingly in mind.
Elizabeth Meier was here with her sister yesterday. They are
both here as servants in order to pay for their trip. They also send
greetings to all and ask for your prayers. I also ask that you fight for
us and for other poor souls, and I'd like to know how things are with you
and if it's true that the Emperor and the French have blocked the pass
and have defeated you with Gross-Huningers.

Make out the address as follows:

Mr. Lewis Timothy
Printer in South Carolina
to be left at the Post-Office in Charles-town"

With this letter, the only known personal document from Giezendanner's hand,
the European phase of his life comes to an end.


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