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  • Writer's pictureKaren L Kurtz

Seven Generations

Updated: May 20

Frederick Franck (1909 -2006), Dutch artist/sculptor/writer created "Seven Generations." It stands in his sculpture garden at Pacem in Terrace, his home in Warwick, NY.

A plaque tells of his inspiration for this sculpture:

"In all our deliberations we must be mindful of the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."

~From the Great Law of Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.

I wondered about decisions made seven generations ago by my ancestors. Many of that generation decided to emigrate from Europe to America―certainly a decision that has had a great impact on me.

On September 17, 1753, after many months at sea, Pierre and Madeleine Armingeon and three of their young sons (5, 7, and 9 years old) disembarked from the “Patience” at the Philadelphia harbour. Their youngest child, one-year-old-Daniel, had died on the journey. Grief-stricken and, no doubt, questioning their decision to risk such a torturous crossing to “New England,” they stood in the immigration queue until an officer interviewed them and filled in the necessary documents on their behalf.

Their surname, Armingeon, was French, although they’d lived their entire lives in Germany’s Black Forest region. Fifteen years before Pierre’s birth, his parents had fled France to escape the persecution and genocide of their Waldensian sect. The Waldensians had broken from the Catholic church as early as 1100 A.D. and had laid a foundation for the Protestant reformation.

The immigration officer apparently had difficulty understanding their French names, or perhaps it reflected a prejudice against the country that had often been at war with the British. A phonetic approximation of Armingeon was entered on Pierre’s immigration document, creating a middle name for him, as well: ”Peter Armin Shong.” His wife's name, Madeleine, was recorded as “Magdalena.” The sons were given new names, as well: Pierre, Jr became “Peter, Jr”, Jaques became “John,” and Godfrey somehow was given the name “Frederick” on that day.

There is ample documentation of the family’s existence―tax records, land titles, census forms, and baptismal records in the Lutheran and Reformed church archives for the five children born later. There were Lancaster County militia rolls for six of their sons who served during the Revolutionary War and marriage certificates for many of their children. The records reveal an evolution (or maybe a wearing-down) of the family name. Various spellings (including Amashon, Armashone, Arminshong, Armstrong, Armin Jong, Armin Jung) are found in the paper trail spanning several decades.

When Pierre died at age 60, twenty years after he arrived in Pennsylvania, his death certificate read Peter Armishong. It is quite unusual that his widow, “Magdalena Armishong,” was bonded as the sole administratrix of his estate, particularly when there were three sons of age at the time. Of even more interest is Madeleine Armingeon’s signature in her own hand, with her original French name on the line. That she could write is indicative of an education, uncommon for women at that time.

Pierre and Madeleine’s third son Godfrey “Frederick," who grew to be a notable height-- between six and seven feet tall--was the only one of their children who left detailed records of his estate. His surname was listed as Armishong for much of his life. At some point his name started appearing as Frederick “Jung,” and by the 1800 census he was listed as Frederick Young. His widow, Mariah, and his children were later buried with the family name Young inscribed on their tombstones.

My grandmother, Ellen Young, was the fifth generation descended from Pierre and Madeleine Armingeon, through their son, Frederick “Armingeon/Armishong/Jung/Young”.

I am of the seventh generation.

~K L Kurtz

Photo: Ellen Young, circa 1890s

Other of my blog posts related to Kurtz ancestry:

*Research for Pierre Armingeon history by Victor A. Young of Red Lion, PA. 1983.


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