Burnetsfield Patent land along the Mohawk River

Mohawk Valley Women’s History Month: Anna Maria Müller (Miller)

Anna Maria Müller (Miller) was born Anna Maria Jacobi in Mainz, German, to parents Anne Barbara and Melchioris in 1687. She would meet and marry Johann Henrich Heger in about 1702 and give birth to her first son Johann Henrich Heger later the same year. Under near constant threat of destruction, whether from wars or the plague in the near hundred years leading into the 18th century, the Palatinate German population experienced extreme hardship. The harsh winter of 1709 added to the already hard life as the severe cold destroyed German vineyards and crops alike. It was during this year that Anna Maria’s family would leave their homeland in search for a better life.

A slow journey

Migrating Germans generally travelled the Rhine on a slow journey to Rotterdam to then  wait for passage to London, England. In London, the Germans still suffered harsh conditions being subject to the mercy of the British government. Some Germans stayed in England while those still hoping to travel the long journey across the Atlantic waited many months before finally setting sail.

West and East Camp Marker

West and East Camp Marker

The West Camp along the Hudson River

Along with about 3,00o fellow Germans from the Palatinate, Johann Henrich and Ana Maria were sent to work in the Naval Stores Project at Livingston Manor. Within a year after arriving at the West Camp, Anna Maria’s husband, Johann Henrich died in 1710. This loss would have been unbearable for her as she cared for her young son the best she could given the conditions at the West Camp. Records show that in a ceremony on September 29, 1711, officiated by Reverend Joshua Anna Maria Jacobi Haeger married Johannes Nicholas Müller I.

A place to call home

It would take more than fifteen years from the time Anna Maria left her homeland for her to finally find a home on Lot 43 of the Burnetsfield Patent in the Mohawk Valley.

In her own words

Our greetings first! Dearest brother and all friends together with their families!

Since I Anna Maria from Germany have been in America, I could never find the opportunity to report a few things about my life and situation. But since a good Palatine friend, Stephen Franck by name, a neighbor of ours, is traveling to the Palatinate and has some business in your area, I could not hesitate to look up you friends to learn how you are doing. Let you know that we have arrived in 1710 in New York after a long and troublesome journey, and then, during harvest time, my husband died after a short illness, being well at noon and dead in the evening. The infant boy born to us in Germany, Heinrich Hager by name, has married here and has 11 living children. I have remarried in 1711. My husband, Johannes Muller by name, still living by the grace of God, comes from Rutershausen, district office of Ebersbach, by whom in peaceful matrimony together we had 5 sons and 3 daughters, which the Lord up to this time has kept alive. Of them, 4 sons and 2 daughters are married.

Also, I wish to report that, even though the move to and the start in this country was hard, God blessed us nevertheless. He has given us our own land, bread, cattle and food so we may live, and we cannot be grateful enough to the Lord. We have no desire to return into your forsaken Egypt; but rather would that you could be with us. However, nobody can be told what to do, for the journey is very troublesome and subject to many discomforts; and life and death are not very far apart from each other.

I have learned that the princely house of Nassau has died out except Nassau-Ditz. I would like to find out from you, dearest brother-in-law, who rules over the principality, and whether things are still as rough as they were then. As far as I am concerned, we are, compared to the taxes in Germany, a free country. We pay taxes once a year. These taxes are so minimal that some spend more money for drinks in one evening when going to the pub. What the farmer farms is his own. There are no tithes, no tariffs; hunting and fishing are free, and our soil is fertile and everything grows. I have 100 acres from the crown and bought another 100 acres.”

Map of Burnets Field from the NYS Archives