The Heart & Backbone of Our Nation
Palatine Barbara Peters married Daniel Gutman at age seventeen and gave birth to two sons in quick succession. Her hometown of Ludwigshafen was a tumultuous place, with wars, famine, and religious persecution for Lutherans, decimating the population. So, in 1709 trailblazing Barbara made a life-changing decision to travel to the New World. Sadly, many ship’s travelers died along the way, including her husband. She was left with her children in a dirty, unsanitary ship’s hold, with little food or water for the entire journey. This year’s most severe winter destroyed crops across both Europe and the Colonies, taking lives randomly and regularly. Barbara’s sheer determination and strength kept her and her children alive. Landing in the dangerous, undeveloped colony of New York where Lutherans were again ostracized, she tenaciously set out on another harrowing journey. She and some other Palatines trekked 150 miles, on foot, deep into the wilderness, winding up in the primitive area near Tulpehocken in the Pennsylvania colony, relying on the kindness of others to get through the first winter. Since Barbara was a widow, life was extremely difficult since women could not earn a good wage and performed menial labor taking in wash, sewing, or working with extremely toxic pitch and tar in unbearable conditions. She never remarried but served her church and community well. Dying at 52, her inner strength and fierce love for her family, at the expense of her own health, gave her children and grandchildren many opportunities previously unrealized.