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Home: Surnames: Welhausen Family Genealogy Forum

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Welhausen, Hessian soldier, 1777 PA > Nova Scotia
Posted by: Wm Considine (ID *****8725) Date: July 30, 2002 at 19:07:40
  of 5

I am not related at all to this surname, but I heard on a radio program (CBC public radio) that the name Welhausen came from a Hessian (Kassel, Germany area) soldier brought to fight against the "rebels" in America in 1777 around Lebanon, PA.

Following the defeat of England, this Welhausen came to Nova Scotia, Canada and died there in Cape Breton in 1826. This could mean one of two things: [1] he arrived around 1784/5 at the (new) settlement of Sydney, Cape Breton; or [2] he may have arrived in NS anywhere between 1777 and 1784, in which case he would more likely have arrived by ship at Halifax (a military base) - unless he had deserted from England, which does nto seemto be the case here (about 50% of the German 'cousins' of the English King deserted during the Rev War adn never returned to Germany). I suspect he arrived by ship from NYC in the 1783/4 period.

Look at the following sources of info:

George III of Great Britain, in 1775/1776, desperately seeking to retain control of British North America, signed treaties with a number of German states to supply troops to defend the English interest in this part of the world. The significance for the genealogist in North America is that approximately 6,000 soldiers remained on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, some 2,400 in Canada and the remaining 3,600 in the USA. It has been estimated that several tens of thousands -or millions ?- of Canadians and Americans can trace their ancestry back to one of these soldiers. It has been estimated that 1,400 Hessians settled in Québec, and about 1,000 in the Maritime Provinces and Ontario. For those fortunate enough to be able to connect an ancestor to one of the German troops, there is a wealth of information that can be accessed, such as diaries outlining troop movements and regiment lists, which can give the soldier's place of birth, height and wealth, general reference material on the American Revolution, etc.

Many authors have suggested that, if it were not for the presence of the German forces, Canada would not exist as a separate nation today. The German contingent in North America was about as large as the English, and despite the English defeat and loss of the 13 colonies, England did retain control of the northern territory.

The military strength of Britain was inadequate to suppress the American uprising. It therefore turned to its former allies of the Seven Years War for support, several German principalities. In the 18th century, Germany was a patchwork of independent states, each with its own ruler. Many of the heads of these states were related to British Royalty in one fashion or another. George III signed treaties with six German states: Braunschweig (Brunswick), Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Hanau, Anspach-Bayreuth, Anhalt-Zerbst and Waldeck. As Hesse-Kassel provided the largest contingent of troops, the German forces became known generically as "Hessians".

Hesse-Kassel supplied the largest number of troops by far. Approximately 17,000 soldiers were sent to America, representing about 1 out of 4 able bodied men of military age of the population of that state. The Hesse-Kassel troops were considered superior to those of the other German states. They were well trained on the Prussian system and in good health. The treaty signed between George III and Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, was a lucrative one for the German Prince. He would be paid an estimated £3 million over an eight-year period for the services of his army. It was also the 6th time in 100 years that the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel had rented out his troops. Thus the common soldier could hardly be considered a "mercenary". He received his regular soldier's pay from the Hessian army; the Landgrave received the benefit.

Hesse-Kassel sent 15 Infantry regiments, each consisting of 5 companies. The strength was 650 officers and men. Also sent were 4 Grenadier Battalions, 2 Jager companies and 2 Field Artillery Companies. Regiments were often named after their "Chef", but not always. Thus you will find references to the von Knyphausen Regiment (named after Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen) or the Mirbach Regiment (named after Major-General von Mirbach). Each regiment, when stationed in Germany, was located in its garrison town. For example, the garrison town of the von Knyphausen regiment was Ziegenhain. This can be important for genealogical research, as the church records for the garrison town could contain information on your ancestor.

The Hesse-Kassel forces spent most of their time in the 13 Colonies. They arrived in New York in August 1776 and departed in August 1783. They participated in every major battle of the war, including the battle of Trenton where many were killed, wounded or captured in the American victory. In September of 1779, the British, fearing an attack on Québec, ordered the von Kynphausen and von Lossberg Regiments to Canada. The fleet was struck by a severe storm and many ships were lost or captured by the Americans. The remainder of the fleet found its way to Québec, although not until June 1780. One part of the von Knyphausen regiment had to spend the winter in Prince Edward Island, and then resumed its voyage to Québec the following spring. The von Lossberg regiment remained in Québec for the remainder of the hostilities, and the von Knyphausen regiment returned to New York in 1781. The Regiment von Seitz was stationed in Halifax from late 1778 until 1783.

Braunschweig (Brunswick)

The Duke of Brunswick (German = Graf von Braunschweig), also related to the British Royal family, dispatched about 5,700 troops throughout the Revolution. These forces were organized into 7 regiments or battalions and 1 Yager company and were stationed in Québec. The first division arrived in the summer of 1776 and the troops left Québec in the summer of 1783. They were under the command of General von Riedesel who is given credit for erecting the first North American Christmas tree in Sorel in 1781 (NOTE: HALIFAX, NS, claims this honour). Riedesel's forces participated in General Burgoyne's campaign in 1777 and most were captured at Saratoga, NY, with only the Prinz Friederich Regiment escaping that fate, having been left behind to defend Fort Ticonderoga. It is estimated that 700-800 of these soldiers chose to settle in Canada.

Hesse-Hanau, Anhalt-Zerbst, Waldeck and Anspach-Bayreuth.

The treaties signed with these principalities called for far fewer troops than with either Hesse-Kassel of Brunswick. Hesse-Hanau contributed about 2,000 soldiers and Anhalt-Zerbst about 1,100, with Anspach-Bayreuth about 2,300 and Waldeck 1,200. Only forces of Hesse-Hanau and Anhalt-Zerbst were stationed in Canada.

Most of the soldiers who settled in Canada or the USA either deserted from the British side, or were allowed to remain behind by their superiors. There are an unknown number of soldiers who returned to Germany, only to return to this side of the Atlantic at some later date. George Weckesser (Weckeßer), whose friend Wilhelm Fischer deserted after a few years in Hesse-Kassel, escaped with their wives and children (emigration was forbidden) and returned to settle in Prince Edward Island. Their desertion is shown in the military records of Hesse-Kassel. Soldiers who chose to settle in Canada were often given land grants, and depending on the jurisdiction, were treated as well as the Loyalists.

Cape Breton County NS - http://www.rootsweb.com/~nscpbret/cbgenwb.html - contains the main population centres of Sydney (founded 1785), Glace Bay (Canada's "largest town" pop. 25,000), Sydney Mines and North Sydney (gateway by sea to Newfoundland), and New Waterford, all very busy coal mining communities through the 20th century. Also the site of FORTRESS LOUISBOURG - http://fortress.uccb.ns.ca/ - (built 1720-1745), capital of New France, then the largest city north of Boston, and now outside of Williamsburg VA the largest restored settlement in North America (built by France on the same city plan as New Orleans, LA).

German mercenaries in the British Army during the American Revolution were mustered out in Halifax and given grants of land in the Guysborough area. White and black United Empire Loyalists settled ca 1784. Antigonish Township, known as Dorchester by the 1790's, and Guysborough were both separated from Sydney County in the 1830's. Dorchester and Guysborough both referred to Sir Guy Carleton [aka Lord Dorchester], Governor of NS. A "forgotten corner of NS" with no railroad or major roads. "Veterans of Guysborough County Book" by Diana Lynn Tibert and Kelly Kaiser - Every veteran who served in World War I and World War II will be listed along with a summary of their military information. Anyone wishing to contribute information on themselves or on the behalf of others, please contact:

Diana Lynn Tibert at
RR#1 Milford Station,
Hants County, NS B0N 1Y0,
or e-mail: - wheelsandweeds@ns.sympatico.ca -

Kelly Kaiser,
RR #1 Sherbrooke,
Guysborough County, NS BOJ 3CO,
or e-mail: - helluvamomma@usa.net -

When using e-mail, please type, 'Guysborough Veterans' on the subject line. Kelly is a long time resident of Sherbrooke, Guysborough County and Diana is originally from Cole Harbour, Halifax County. The fathers of both authors were born and raised in Guysborough County, and served in World War II.

Halifax County, NS - http://www.rootsweb.com/~nshalifa/ - largest in area and population in NS, location of capital city Halifax (1749), sister city Dartmouth (1750). 400,000 of NS's one million people live here. Political, financial, commercial, and cultural centre of NS; largest urban centre north of Boston and east of Québec. Halifax has 5 universities and major teaching and treatment hospitals. Canada's largest military establishment and a major port and shipping centre are here.

- http://www.halifaxinfo.com/welcome.html - New (1999) Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) website about History, General Info, Tourism, etc.

N.S. UNIVERSITY & EDUCATIONAL SITES - http://www.ednet.ns.ca/ - including MARITIME MUSEUM OF THE ATLANTIC, TEL: (902) 424-7584 or FAX: (902) 424-0612. MMA's "Titanic" site @ - http://maritime.museum.ns.ca - gravestone # 227 exists at Fairview Cemetery for Dawson, J(ames) - Trimmer 23 - lived at 17 Briton Street, Southampton, England.

At St. Paul's Anglican Church, Halifax, the oldest Church of England in Canada (1749), there may be an actual copy of the original St. Paul's baptismal, marriage, or death records, but copying is not allowed (only by permission of the minister at St. Paul's).

Lunenburg County NS - http://www.rootsweb.com/~canns/lunenburg/index.html - has lots of info on the FRENCH, SWISS or GERMAN settlers in NS starting 1750. French variations were later anglicized. In 1749-52 many "foreign Protestants" (Huguenots) came to North America, some into Nova Scotia, others from New England to the Carolinas. Often they are recorded as German or Swiss although they were Francophones. A large number were from the Principality of Montbéliard, where France, Switzerland, and Germany meet. The arrival in the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia area of several boatloads was commemorated with a ceremony and monument in the 20th century.

Sites of early French fortifications date from ca 1630-50. A unique part of NS with Lunenburg (town) designated a United Nations Historic Site, home of wooden sailing ships.

Shelburne County NS (created 1784 from Queens County, and included modern Yarmouth County) - http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Flats/3699/genindex.html - main landing site for up to 20,000 United Empire Loyalists (including 1,500-3,000 freed black Loyalists) in 1783/4. It was the FOURTH LARGEST SETTLEMENT IN NORTH AMERICA (after NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia) during these early years. They were landed in Port Roseway, now called Shelburne. Shelburne County Genealogical Society - 168 Water Street, Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0 - TEL: 902-875-4299 FAX: 902-875-3267 - E-Mail: - gencentre@ns.sympatico.ca - Website - http://nsgna.ednet.ns.ca/shelburne - excellent source of information about early settlement in Shelburne County, starting in 1630's with the French, then from 1750's around Barrington area and including the 1783/4 landing of the United Empire Loyalists from the (new) USA.

Johannes Helmut Merz - hessian@cgocable.net - wrote August 14, 1997: I wrote the book "Hessians of Nova Scotia". Anyone having a "Hessian" ancestor, who had settled in Canada after the war, and who needs more information about him, is invited to contact me direct at my e-mail address. The Hanau Regiment from Erbprinz were usually Lutherans.

If you have someone you think was a Hessian Soldier in the Revolutionary War a good place to go is - http://www.cgocable.net/~hessian - I have over 2000 names in my Personal Data Files, and I am willing to share information. But do not forget, sharing information is a two-way affair, so I would like to know what you know too - John Merz. You can also post your query with - AMREV-HESSIANS-L@rootsweb.com - mailing list.

Charlene Woodring - cwoodring@localaccess.com - wrote July 15, 1998, In Reply to: Hessian Deserters posted by Barbara Jarvis on May 12, 1998: My ancestor was a Hessian soldier who failed to return to Prussia. He served with the Von Böse or Erbprinz Regiments, as near as I can determine. He gave up his Germanic name to become John Borders which is why I suspect desertion.

Mine were Groethausen (Gröthausen) Hessian Deserters. There were 2 or 3 brothers. Gröthausen is now spelled Greathouse.

John Helmut Merz - hessian@cgocable.net - replied January 1, 1999: Hessian Military files only mention Lieutenant Friedrich Wilhelm von Gröthausen, who was with the Hesse-Kassel Jäger Korps, and according to Hetrina IV he was killed in action Jan 1777. - AMREV-HESSIANS-L@rootsweb.com - post at the AMREV-HESSIANS mail list.

Theophil Daeschler Jaeger (German: Theophil Däschler Jäger), J/2 deserted on April 23, 1783. He was from the Anspach/Bayreuth area of Germany.

A soldier by the name of John Painter was a Hessian soldier who came to America to fight, then he changed sides. The surname is spelled Paynter (at least one family line).

HESSIAN WEB PAGE - http://www.netaxs.com/~gothic/Hessian.html - The site is interesting and has some good links. Many Hessians stayed on after the war. Some who were captured stayed on and lived among their former captors. Others deserted. Parts of the 13 states at that time were heavily German (PA, parts of MD, VA etc). The temptation to stay with other Germans was great, especially since many of the Hessians were rather unwilling mercenaries (many having been recruited through "press gang" tactics - the real profits going to the prince in whose regiment they served).

NS Regional Libraries - http://www.library.ns.ca/regionals/ - (for your enquiries, try the ones marked *, or 1 (first choice), 2, 3, etc.:

_ Annapolis Valley Regional Library
1 Cape Breton Regional Library - they would have Sydney records
_ Colchester-East Hants Regional Library
_ Cumberland Regional Library
_ Eastern Counties Regional Library
2 Halifax Regional Library - may have info about Hessian soldiers arriving from Amer. Rev.
_ Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library
2 South Shore Regional Library - Lunenburg County (German) is here
_ Western Counties Regional Library


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