Wilheim GORKUM was born on 27 Aug 1713 in Westhofen, Germany. He was baptized
on 3 Sep 1713 in Reformed Church, Westhofen, Rhine Palatine, Germany. He died
on 10 Apr 1783 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Johann Wilheim Gorkum was our emigrant
ancestor to Canada, The circumstances which brought him and his family to Canada
are not only interesting but an important part of Canadian history, and therefore
we are lucky to be able to have such a good understanding of the events of which
Johann Wilheim was a part.
In 1749, an Englishman, Colonal Edward Cornwallis, became governor of Nova Scotia
and in that same year founded the city of Halifax. Attempts to first colonize
it with fellow Englishmen, mainly soldiers and sailors, weren't very successful,
and so the next year Cornwallis requested the British Lords of Trade to send
out more suitable settlers, perferably German farmers. The government made a
contract with a man named John Dick to transport them, which he did for the next
three summers. Hundreds of people made the voyage, drawn by the alluring handbills
that had been circulated around the country in the German tongue. The British
government promised that all the Germans who came to Nova Scotia would be given
50 acres of land free from all rent and taxes for ten years, and would be given
food and clothing for the first year they lived there. They were also promised
guns and ammunition, tools for building houses and for farming and clearing the
land, and for fishing.
Johann Wilhelm, at the time a 39-year-old from Westphalia, sailed in 1752 on
one of these government-chartered ships, the "Pearl", along with his
wife Sophia Catherina, 30 and their six surviving children, ranging in age from
13 to 1. Also on the ship was his brother, Johann Hermann and his family; his
wife and 6 or 7 children, ranging in age from 23 to 13. As for the rest of the
brothers' birth family, their parents had already died and all of their siblings
except perhaps a sister, Elizabeth.
Sadly, both Johann Herman and his wife died either on board the Pearl or shortly
after. The 1752 Halifax Victualling list, from 30 Oct to 24 Dec inclusive, lists
only the following 12 Gorckums: Anna Barbara, Anna Margaret, Anna Maria, Elizabeth,
George, Hermanus, Johannes, John George, John Heinrich, Sophia Catherine, Wilhelm
The presence of about 2,500 of the German emigrants to Halifax soon proved to
be not as desirable as they first had seemed, Since none of the land that had
been promised there had been cleared or even marked out for them because of the
threat of the Micmac Indians, they were forced to inactivity. Settled on a pair
of rough lanes, Brunswick and Gottingen, running north from the Citadel slope
and huddled together in boarded barracks, they quickly became a burden and expense
to the authorities, as well as becoming very discontent among themselves.
In 1753 an uneasy peace was made with the Indians, and the fact brought relief
to "the Palatines" as they were generally known. Cornwallis had been
anxious to make another strong settlement on the coast, and so took this opportunity
to do so, moving almost all of the Germans to what is now called Lunenburg. Each
man was given a town lot, a garden lot and a farm near the town, the lots being
drawn using a pack of cards.
Personal tragedy struck in 1753 as Johann Wilhelm and Sophia Catharina lost two
of their children; their youngest, Johann Hermann, at the age of 2 and Johann
Georg at the age of 10. They also outlived their son Johannes, who died in 1772
aged 26, leaving a widow and child.
However, the couple had three more children after their arrival in Nova Scotia:
Christopher Adam in 1754, Johann Gottlieb Edward in 1757 and Johann Peter in
1760. All married and had families.
We see the family on the list of persons victualled at Lunenburg and Halifax
between 23 Feb and 10 May 1756 under the name of Gorckum: Adam, Henrick, John,
Maria, Sophia, Wilhelm and Wilhelm.
Johann Wilhelm himself died on April 10, 1783 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia at the
age of 69 years. His wife Sophia outlived him by about 10 years. They had at
least 65 grandchildren, and there are inumerable descendants today. Parents:
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