Showing posts with label Hessians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hessians. Show all posts

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ BOLLMAN, my Hessian Ancestor


Johann Daniel Bollman was born about 1751 in Hammersleben, Magdeburg, Saxony, Germany.  I do not know his parentage, and I have not found his exact date of birth.  In 1776 he arrived in North America with Baron de Riesdesel’s Brunswick Regiment of Hessian soldiers to fight in the Revolutionary War.  They left Germany in February and arrived in Portsmouth, England on 18 March 1776.  It took six weeks to cross the Atlantic and landed in Quebec. 

This regiment was brought to Canada to save it from the Revolutionary War by cutting off New England from southern colonies and driving them to surrender.  They were at the Battle of Bennington in August of 1777 where 200 Hessians were killed and 700 were captured.  In September they lost the Battle of Saratoga, and my ancestor, Johann Daniel Bollman, was captured.  Luckily, he was a valuable hostage, since he was an officer and the surgeon of his regiment.  He was exchanged quickly, and the rest of the prisoners of war were marched to Massachusetts.

The prisoners who were exchanged were sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I have found Dr. Bollman’s petition asking for compensation for providing medical services to the prisoners between 25 November 1779 and 10 March 1780.   He eventually settled in Lunenburg, a mostly German settlement not far from Halifax, where he lived for 54 years.  He married Jane Bremner, widow of settler Philip Knaut.

Dr. Bollman was active in politics and represented Lunenburg in the House of Assembly from 1783 to 1809.  He was appointed a health officer on 14 May 1799.  Besides his civic duty records, I also found many mentions of him in The Diary of Adolphus Gaetz.  Apparently he had a lawsuit against another German doctor in town, Joseph Falt and it was recorded in this diary.  Adolphus Gaetz was a Lunenburg businessman who wrote a diary form 1855 – 1873, and this manuscript is in the Lunenburg County documents of the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (

There was another incident in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia involving Lewis Morris Wilkins.  Dr. Bollman ran against Wilkins in the provincial elections of 1793 and won.  Wilkins and for other residents vandalized his house and apothecary shop breaking 150 window panes, furniture, doors and over 100 medicine bottles.  Bollman’s lawyer wrote “His said dwelling house was rendered uninhabitable, his family and himself being obliged to fly from the same and his business and trade as a Druggist and Apothecary was totally prevented, stopped and put to an end so that the said John Bolman beign obliged to shut up his said shop the windows thereof and the Drugs and Medicines as aforesaid and divers other wrongs and outrages then and there committed against the peace of our Lord. “ [Surgeons, Smallpox, and the Poor: A History of Medicine and Social Conditions in Nova Scotia, 1749-1799,  By Allan Everett Marble, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, pages 160- 161.]

Another excerpt from Johnny Bluenose at the Polls, by Brian Cuthbertson, Formac Publishing, Halifax, 1994, page 166:

"Among the few Loyalists who came to Lunenburg was the former surgeon in General de Riesdesal's Hessian Regiment.  A native of Mageburg in Germany, John Bolman married the widow of Phillip Knaut shortly after arriving in the township where he soon rose to social prominence.  Another Loyalist was Lewis Morris Wilkins, the son of Isaac and the Shelburne Loyalist elected to the Assembly in 1785. Before the American War Lewis had gone to King's College (later Columbia University) in New York.  He had likely studied law with his uncle in Shelburne before deciding to practise his profession in Lunenburg. It was a wise decision because there was not to be another lawyer in Lunenburg for many years; he was able to develop an extensive practice not only there, but also increasingly in Halifax and Pictou.  Wollenhaupt declined to reoffer. Both Wilkins and Bolman seized the opportunity to run for the single township seat. Bolman was nearly twice the age of the youthful Wilkins and this was likely in his favour, though Bolman did not win by a large margin, the vote being 164 to 123."

Dr. Bollman had eleven children.  I descend from his second youngest son, Bremner Frederick Bollman, born in 1802.  I found records for these families in the Anglican and Presbyterian church records in Lunenburg.  One of Dr. Bollman’s sons was named “Henry”, and there was another Hessian soldier named Henrich Bollman who settled in Trois Rivieres, Quebec but I do not know if they were kin.  Another son, John, b. 1785, was killed in the Battle of Albuera in Spain in 1811. 

For researching this family, the Lunenburg town records and the books mentioned above were invaluable.  For more information on the Hessian soldiers and Baron de Risedesel's Brunswick regiment was found in the journals of the Johannes Schwalb Society. 

My BOLLMAN genealogy:

Generation 1: Johann Daniel Bollman, born about 1751 in Hammersleben, Magdeburg, Saxony, Germany and died 17 September 1833 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada;  married on 14 February 1782 in Lunenburg to Jane Bremner, the daughter of Robert Bremner and Margaret Stewart, Scots immigrants to Nova Scotia.  Eleven children.

Generation 2:  Bremner Frederick Bollman born 25 February 1802 in Lunenburg, died 15 December 1838 in Lunenburg; married Sarah Elizabeth Lennox, daughter of John Lennox and Ann Margaretha Schupp.  She was born 16 February 1805 in Lunenburg.  Three children.

Generation 3:  Ann Margaret Bollman, born 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg, died 1923 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg to Caleb Rand Bill, son of Ingraham Ebenezer Bill and Isabella Lyons.  He was born 30 May 1833 in Nictaux, Nova Scotia and died 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts.  Nine children.

Generation 4: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 5: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

The URL for this post is

Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Hessian Soldier Episode Continues

Last year at RootsTech 2013 I had a wonderful time learning new things in the exhibit hall, and in the classrooms and lectures.  But some of the best learning moments were outside of the planned activities of the conference.  The usual schmoozing, hugging and hanging out with genealogist friends and blogging buddies is fun, but at RootsTech there was more than just social exchanges.  Some of the invitations I had to hang out on the air with Dear Myrt, meet up with friends at the famous Family History Library, and discuss technology with the innovators were RootsTech moments that don’t happen at other conference.

One of those moments that just seems to go on and on, and even continued on at RootsTech 2014 while I wasn’t even there!  This is what I call “The Hessian Soldier Episode”.   This episode started last year as a side comment about an ancestor, and that little comment took on a life of its own.  While being interviewed by Dear Myrt last February, I casually mentioned that it was my first trip to Salt Lake City and I was going to take advantage of the chance to use the famous Family History library.  My original plan was to mine the resources for Spanish records to look up my husband’s family tree, but I also figured that there might be some German records for my Hessian soldier ancestor.

After my interview, I was halfway OUT the door when Myrt called me back to continue the discussion.  It seems that Barry Kline, her photographer, was interested in Hessian research, and so was a viewer named Judy Holcombe Smith.   We had a great second discussion of the Hessians and the Johannes Schwalm Society.  Two days later I found the journals of the JSHA on the shelves of the FHL and we also found records about Judy’s ancestor, Anthony Schoppe.  I emailed these images to Judy.  The discussion of Hessians continued at “Mondays with Myrt” for a few weeks.

Over the past year I’ve been asked many times about this Hessian Soldier research.  This is not an area I have a lot of expertise in researching, but because of Dear Myrt’s show, the story spread.  Someone stopped me in the halls of the NERGC conference in April last year to talk about Hessians.  Another person got me talking about Hessians in the stacks of the NEHGS library in Boston last summer.  And then RootsTech 2014 rolled around…

I wasn’t at RootsTech 2014, nor was I in Salt Lake City last week during the conference, but I was so surprised to hear that Hessian story mentioned by Lisa Alzo during her talk on Friday February 7th.  She had emailed me about this story and asked for photos many months earlier, but I had completely forgotten it was going to be used in this lecture. And then email poured in from friends telling me to watch Dear Myrt’s RootsTech 2014 classes because the Hessian story was discussed twice!  Yes, the story was repeated during both her classes on Thursday  February 6th and Friday February 7th.  I’ll post the links below.

This little story started out as a passing comment and then grew and grew.  I hope that along the way it was valuable to Barry Kline, Myrt’s viewer Judy Holcombe Smith, and anyone else who had never heard of the Johannes Schwalm Society.  Perhaps a few people found more information on their Hessian ancestors, or confirmed that their ancestor did belong to one of these regiments.

It also got me thinking about family stories.  They all start out years and years ago, and are passed on through the generations.  Finally someone takes that story and does the research to confirm the who, what, where and when at the root of the tale.  That’s probably not the end of the story because most researchers take the myth and the truth and continue passing on it on, through articles, reports, blogs, books, and social media.

Good luck with your family traditions and myths.  They are probably true!  And they’ll continue being passed around, just like “The Hessian Soldier Episode”.

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, Dear Myrtle and Russ Worthington for mentioning this story at RootsTech 2014.


To go along with all the serendipity in this story,  today on "On Point" on National Public Radio, there will be a story on "Crowdsourcing and the New Genealogy Boom".  Guests will be journalist J. J. Jacobs, Judy Russell "The Legal Genealogist", and Spencer Wells, geneticist of the Genographic Project.  Listen live online at 11am or on the air, or catch the archived version:


For the truly curious:
Lisa Alzo “Tweets, Links, Pins and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media”
RootsTech 2014

The following two classes are from RootsTech 2014, on YouTube (not the RootsTech website):

Hangouts on Air – The Panelists View (Thursday)  (check minutes 40:30 – 43:30)

Hangouts on Air – The Panelists View (Friday)   (check minutes 7:10 – 9:20)

The original “Mondays with Myrt” 18 March 2013
To see the Hessian soldier story tune in to about 18:00 minutes, and after I tell the story I almost walk out of the interview booth at 20:20 minutes, but Myrt calls me back to collaborate on the air with Barry Kline and viewers!  (18:00 – 27:00)

The Johannes Schwalm Historical Association (Hessian Soldier Research)

UPDATE:  added 17 February 2014
A database sent in by a reader (see the comments below)

UPDATE: added 21 February 2014
sent in by reader Skip Murray (see the comments below)

The URL for this post is 

Copyright ©2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, August 16, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Lines from a Diary

Dr. Bolman's House in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

from the Diary of Adolphus Gaetz, page 41

June 1858 Monday 7th- "Married at 12 o'clock noon, at the house of Mrs. Trider, under whose care the Bride had been brought up, Mr. C. R. Bill, formerly at teacher of vocal music in this place, to Miss Annie Bolman, daughter of the late Bremner Bolman. At 2 o'clock the married couple started on their way to New Brunswick, they were escorted as far as Mahone Bay by several young men and maidens who had been at the wedding. The above were married by the father of the Groom, Rev'd I. E. Bill, baptist preacher, at St. John, New Brunswick, who came here for the purpose."

In 2007 I went to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia for the first time, to see where my ancestors lived. The Bolman family of Lunenburg is descended from Dr. Johann Daniel Bolman, a Hessian surgeon captured at the Battle of Saratoga, and never returned to Germany. He settled in Lunenburg, married a widow of German descent, and entered Nova Scotia politics.

A published copy of Adolphus Gaetz's diary was in my room at the Lennox Inn, the Lunenburg B&B where I stayed (owned and operated by another ancestor, John Lennox, in the early 1800s). As soon as I picked up the book and perused the names inside, I noted this passage mentioned my great great grandparents, Annie Bolman and Caleb Rand Bill. She was the granddaughter of Dr. Bolman.

An advertisement from Salem, Massachusetts
for a photography studio to restore old photos
The couple depicted is Annie and Caleb Bill

When I returned home from Nova Scotia I found another copy of Gaetz's diary at the New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston. Only a snippet view is available on line at Google Books, but it is also in the card catalog at and can be read or browsed online. The diary is full of references to Lunenburg families, and other goings on in Nova Scotia. Adolphus Gaetz wrote his diary from 1855 to 1873. He noted births, deaths, marriages, politics and other historical events in great detail. It is surprisingly easy and fun to read, as well as a wonderful genealogical treasure trove. I was able to find many references to ancestors in 19th century Lunenburg.

Adolphus Gaetz was born 13 May 1804 in Werheim, Germany, and immigrated to Lunenburg in 1832. He had a dry goods shop, was registrar of probate and county treasurer. He married Lucy Dorothea Zwicker in 1834, the granddaughter of German immigrant to Nova Scotia Johann Peter Zwicker. He died on 12 April 1873.

Sources for Adolphus Gaetz’s Diary:

The Diary of Adolphus Gaetz, edited by Charles Bruce Ferguson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1965 website listing deaths mentioned in Adolphus Gaetz’s diary The Diary of Adolphus Gaetz [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Fergusson, Charles B.. The Diary of Adolphus Gaetz. Halifax, N. S.: 1965.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Revolutionary War Re-enactment

Here is another photo appropriate for the week of the Fourth of July. My dad was not a re-enactor, but he loved to joke and have fun. At this Revolutionary War encampment in Windham, New Hampshire in 1994 he enjoyed it so much he even tried on the uniforms. He teased that if he were to "join up" he'd play on the side of the British (his mom was born in England) or a Hessian because it was more fun to be the "bad guy" and they had better uniforms. Here he is trying on officer's gear from the New Hampshire First Regiment.

I think he looked pretty good. Dad had at least eight minutemen in his ancestry, and one Hessian soldier.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 4

The Hessian Soldier who stayed in the New World

Part four in my Thanksgiving series about ancestors who DIDN’T arrive in the New World on the Mayflower. My 4x great grandfather Johann Daniel Bollman was a surgeon from Hammersleben in Saxony, Germany. He came to North America with Baron de Riedesel’s Brunswick Regiment of Hessian Soldiers in 1776. The Duke of Brunswick had contracted with England to send 3,964 foot soldiers and cavalry to America. They arrived in Quebec and their military objective was to cut off New England from the other colonies by driving troops down to Albany. They lost the battle at Bennington, Vermont when 200 Germans were killed and another 700 were captured. Again, at Saratoga, the Americans trapped them and took the Germans as prisoners of war for the duration.

Fortunately, as an officer and a surgeon, Johann Daniel Bollman was a valuable prisoner. He was also wounded at Saratoga, and while being held he tended to the other sick and wounded. He was exchanged as a prisoner of war, and sent to Halifax. Eventually he settled as a permanent resident of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the home of many German speaking settlers.

Dr. Bollman was not only a physician, he also became active in politics and served as a member of the House of Assembly representing Lunenburg Township between 1793 to 1809. In 1782 he married Jane Bremner, daughter of Scots settlers and widow of Phillip Knaut, an original Lunenburg grantee. His granddaughter removed to Massachusetts in the 1870s and joined the family tree in the United States.

Bollman Family Tree:

Generation 1: Dr. Johann Daniel Bollman, born about 1751 in Hammersleben, Magdeburg, Saxony, Germany, died 17 September 1833 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada; married on 14 February 1782 in Lunenburg to Jane Bremner, daughter of Robert Bremner and Margaret Stewart, born about 1764 and died on 6 March 1829 in Lunenburg. Eleven children including two sons who were surgeons…

Generation 2: Dr. Bremner Frederick Bollman, born 25 February 1802 in Lunenburg, died on 15 December 1838 in Lunenburg; married to Sarah Elizabeth Lennox, daughter of John Lennox and Ann Margaretha Schupp, born 16 February 1805 in Lunenburg. Three children…

Generation 3: Ann Margaret Bollman, born 11 September 1835 in Lunenburg and died 1923 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 in Lunenburg to Caleb Rand Bill, son of the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill and Isabella Lyons. He was born on 30 May 1833 in Billtown, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, and died on 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts. See my blog posting on October 4, 2009 “Bill Family Reunion” for a continuation of this lineage.


“The Diary of Adolphus Gaetz” describes life in early Lunenburg, Nova Scotia between 1855 and 1873. Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management

“Johnny Bluenose at the Polls” by Brian Cuthbertson, Formac Publishing, Halifax, 1994

“Surgeons, Smallpox, and the Poor: A History of Medicine and Social Conditions in Nova Scotia, 1749-1799”, by Allan Everett Marble, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal

Johannes Schwalm Historical Association website of Hessian Soldiers and their Descendants in the New World

The records of Saint John's Anglican Church, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo