The Frozen Rhine
Spouse(s): Catharina Krobel
Family tree: Balthasar Strickhäuser 1664-c.1724
Balthasar Strickhäuser, a cooper and brewer, was born January 1, 1664 at Bad Kreuznach in the Rhineland Palatinate in what is now Germany. He and his wife Catharina Kröbel lived at Bad Kreuznach. Balthasar and Catharina were members of the German Reformed Church.
The Strickhäusers were blessed with six children: Christoph, born in 1693; Susanna, baptized in 1696; Johannes, born in 1697; Johann Philip, born in 1699; Johan Jacob, born in 1701; and Anna Elisabetha in 1704. All the children were born at Bad Kreuznach.
Cooper's workshop, Open air museum Roscheider Hof, Konz, Germany
Bad Kreuznach lies between the forests and vineyards of the Nahe River valley, not far from the Rhine. Bizarre rock faces, magnificent forests and water courses characterize the landscape. Balthasar and his father-in-law, who was also a cooper, must have been very busy producing barrels to meet the great demand from the vintners. But all was not well in 1708.
The Great Frost during the winter of 1708-1709, the worst in Europe in more than a century, forced Balthasar and his family to leave Bad Kreuznach. The severe cold lasted from October until the end of April, destroying the grape vines and fruit trees that were the livelihood of many in southwestern Germany. Some said, "birds died in the air and spittle leaving the mouth was ice before it reached the ground."
The Rhine River froze for five weeks beginning on January 10, 1709. Many Palatines traveled down the Rhine to Rotterdam in the Netherlands in late February and March, 1709. In Rotterdam they were housed in shacks covered with reeds.
The frozen Rhine about 1929
At the end of June, 1709, Balthasar Strickhäuser arrived in London, England from the Continent with his wife and three children. The family was with the third group of Germans from the Palatinate who came to England that year. In London they were housed in 1,600 tents surrounding the city.
An accounting in the London camp on June 2, 1709 lists a daughter, Elizabeth, age 5, born 1704; a son, Johan Jacob, age 9, born 1701; and another daughter, Susanna, age 13, born 1696.
What happened to the three other Strickhäuser boys: Christoph, born 1693; Johannes, born 1697; and Johann Philip, born 1699? The three were certainly too young to go off on their own. Perhaps they stayed with relatives in Bad Kreuznach, were sold into bondage, or died at home or on the miserable trip to Rotterdam, or in the camp at Rotterdam, or on the boat across the Channel.
The reduced Strickhäuser family crossed the Atlantic to New York about 1710, for Balthasar received a subsistence allowance on July 4, 1710, while either in New York City or in the Hudson River settlements. At that time the family numbered five: three adults age 10 or above, and two children.
On June 24, 1711, he received an additional subsistence allowance, and the family numbered four adults age 10 or above, and one child.
Balthasar Strickhäuser, the cooper, was active in the New York colony, as he is mentioned often in New York Colonial Manuscripts from 1711 and 1712.
Hans Roll and Elizabeth Strickhäuser were witnesses at the Staten Island Dutch Reformed Church to the baptism of Jannetje Preyer, daughter of Johannes Preyer and Maria Roll on October 20, 1728.
Their appearance together as witnesses to a baptism is a strong indication that John Mangles Roll (1708-1782) was married to Elizabeth Strickhäuser. While the circumstantial evidence is strong, this marriage does not have direct documentary evidence yet.