Friday, September 2, 2011

Sgt. Johann Henrich Reuter, Loyalist

Of all the resources I've mentioned in the past, your state/provincial and national archives have to be among the most vital. In addition to such genealogical staples as vital records and census returns, archives hold a wealth of information beyond dates and places. In some cases, you won't know what you're looking for until you find it. 

Case in point: while looking up my many ancestral surnames in the card catalogue at Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management several years ago, I saw a reference to an article about Johann Henrich Reuter, one of my Loyalist ancestors. A whole article? And the file also included correspondence between the author and one of the Archive's researchers. I couldn't believe my luck! 

While I waited for the records clerk to bring out the article from storage, I try to limit my expectations. After all, I might not learn anything new. The article might even be little more than a snippet. 

I wasn't disappointed, though I was initially frustrated that the article was written in German. I was able to get the letter translated in full and the article in part (pulling out the vital data), thanks to a German-Canadian who was willing to help a friend of a friend. 

Turned out the article revealed when and where Johann Henrich was born (19 June 1754 in Hesselbach) and the names of his parents (Valentin and Elisabeth), brother (Jacob), first born son (Jacob), father-in-law (Jacob Brusch), and sister-in-law's husband (Valentine Sartorius). 

The jewel of this collection was the letter that Johann Henrich wrote to his family in Germany, preserved for generations by his brother's descendants (author Ulrich Weiss being one of them) and transcribed in full as part of the article. 

The translated version is reproduced here.

My heartily loved brothers and sisters, 

My brother duty and what I owe you is to write a letter even I have already sent you different letters but I never got any answers from you. That's the reason I want to let you know Thank God I'm healthy and I hope the same from you. 

Dear Brothers, sisters and friends—I'm now a free man and free from my duty as soldier after eight years and I have in mind here to stay here in this country because to me as a Sergeant I was promised 200 morgen [150 acres] and one year supplies and house furnishings which makes me able to work on the land. There is nobody on the land but I find the land is just as good as Germany. 

Dear Brothers and sisters and friends—I am married and for that reason I hope you will forgive me for I am staying here in this country. It would be too much to write you everything from me. But the courier of this letter was at the same regiment as I was and he promised me with heart and mouth that he will deliver the letter and tell you everything that happened to me over here. 

Dear brothers and sisters and friends—I hope you are satisfied with the letter and I am sure that you be satisfied with all that the man has to tell you. 

Now I beg you to give my best regards to all my friends and people I know and I wish for you my dear brothers and sisters and some of my friends would be here because we would be able to live off the land. But I think it will be impossible. I beg you my brothers and sisters and friends to write me a few lines. The reason is that we want to let you know what you have to do. 

For now I hope you all live well and I and my wife ask God that you always will be safe up to the death. 

True brother and brother-in-law
Johann Henrich Reuter 

From my comrades who stayed here with me the courier will tell you all about them. 

The wife I have is the oldest daughter of Jacob Brusch [or Busch] of Eberbach and we have a son we named Jacob after his grandfather. But he died and I have since then a daughter which is still alive and I hope we have a lot of good things from her. The other daughter [of Jacob Brusch] is married to valentine Sartorius and has a daughter too which is still alive.

Button from a 60th Regiment uniform
NOTE: Johann Henrich Reuter, Jacob Brusch and Valentine Sartorius all settled in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, after serving the British cause during the American Revolution (as part of the 60th Regiment - Royal Americans). I've so far been unable to find additional information on the origins of Brusch and Sartorius.

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