More than 200 years ago, thousands of Germans joined British soldiers on the battlefield.
After the Revolutionary War concluded in 1783, about 6,000 German troops — known as “hessians” — chose to make America their home.
A local non-profit, the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, was founded by their descendants.
It is named after Johannes Schwalm, a hessian who was captured at the Battle of Trenton.
“Our niche focus is really on those hessians who fought for the British and then decided, after the war, to stay in America,” said Ross Harold Schwalm, the historical association’s president.
Each year, the organization publishes journals about hessian history and descendants. It also keeps records on the Schwalm family.
“The current genealogy is about 10,000 pages — it was updated in 2016 — and it’s a lot of fun to go in there, and you find little tidbits to give us more … ideas of what to research and find out about the people that make up our family,” Schwalm said.
It offers a hessian certificate program, as well.
Individuals who can trace their ancestry to the hessians may submit $35 and an application to the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association.
“We validate that, make sure that they truly are a descendant,” Schwalm said. “And if they are successful, we end up providing them a fraktur-based hessian certificate.”
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