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What is Known About Michael App

Chapter 2

Michael App was probably born between 1725 and 1730. He first was married to Elisabeth A. Polsie in 1753, and together they had four children. Son Friedrich was born in November, 1754, daughter Anna Maria was born in 1758, son Matthias (this is the traditional spelling of his name) was born October 22, 1761, and daughter Maria Catharina was born October 18, 1763. Michael acquired farm land in today’s Lehigh Township in today’s Northampton County, Pennsylvania after his arrival in 1752. The land he selected was perfect for his purpose of farming. His first two buildings were a log house and a stone barn. The barn is considered to be the first in Lehigh Township. There was a fine rivulet passing between the home and the barn which provided clean water for the animals and the family.

Not much is known about Michael’s wife, Elisabeth A. Polsie (1725–April 28, 1798). They were married in 1753, according to records, meaning that they were married in Pennsylvania the year after his arrival from Germany. The name “Polsie” does not appear to be a German name (although, some records say that she was from Germany), and it is unknown whether they met in America or knew one another in Europe.

Although Michael’s surname was certainly App, there are variant spellings such as Opp, Upp, Epp and even Ipp. The German pronunciation of App is “Opp,” rather than the American pronunciation of “App.” This is a good place to make two important points about past assumptions of the immigrant Michael App. First, there is no known record in America that mentions John, or Johann, as part of his name. Every record found simply calls him Michael. “Johann” was a church name for many German males that wasn’t used on a daily basis. Second, a 1720 date previously suggested for Michael’s birth is probably too early. Based on the birthdates of his wife and children, it is more than likely that his date of birth is nearer 1725, but it is safe to say that it was before 1730.

For centuries families migrated within the confines of Germany and became spread out, so it is a reality that the App surname had spread over a distance even within Germany by 1752. William Penn made an extreme effort to market his Pennsylvania colony as a promised land for religious freedom. For years he traveled through Europe, especially Germany, advertising the virtues of his newfound paradise. It’s no wonder that the majority of immigrants to Pennsylvania came from Germany, where Lutherans were being chastised for their religious beliefs. Still, it is not certain what the reason was for Michael App to immigrate to America.

The English crown needed subjects, specifically married subjects, who could help the colonies grow in population. Generally, the Germans who chose to undertake the hardship of a trans-Atlantic voyage were poor, yet the cost of such a voyage was high. Even though many immigrants did not have the necessary funds to purchase passage, they were determined to make the crossing. Years of indentured servitude for themselves and other family members was often the currency of last resort. History shows that England offered, “Indentured Servitude” to those Europeans interested in colonizing America. Contracts were offered by “sponsors” and most were contracted from 2 to 8 years of service until their debt was paid. Michael App apparently had the funds to pay for his crossing since he did not indenture himself.

Michael’s occupation seemed to be that of a farmer living his entire life on the original property that he settled, and in the same log home he built in 1752. Living only about 75 miles (120 km) northwest of Philadelphia, Michael and his family lived at a time in American history before, during, and after the American Revolution. In fact, Michael and his two sons participated in that war. Contemporaries in Philadelphia during Michael’s early years in America would have been people with names such as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Betsy Ross, John Adams, Thomas Paine, and dozens more. In 1752, Ben Franklin performed his kite/lightning experiment in June, and the Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia in September.

It was the birthplace of the United States, where our Founding Fathers met, discussed, debated and formed a new country. Philadelphia was the headquarters, if not the official capitol, of the colonies during the American Revolutionary War. It housed both Continental Congresses, the Constitutional Congress, and both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written there.

Once the Constitution was ratified and George Washington became president, he spent the first year of his term in New York City. Soon, however, the Residence Act made Philadelphia the temporary, official capitol of the United States for 10 years beginning in December, 1790. This was to allow President Washington time to build a new capitol along the Potomac River which, of course, became Washington, D.C.

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