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The Legend of John Nickolas Emerick





The Legend of John Nickolas Emerick by Willis L. Brown PREFACE: "If there is a purpose to the below, it is to suggest that many Emerick family trees were prepared to document a connection to the legendary John Nicholas Emerick. Many a branch was grafted onto a tree of a different species, and most of the grafts still have some believers, a few are flourishing. We who do genealogical research today have ready access to original records in addition to recording tools that were never considered possible by our immediate ancestors. We owe it to those who will follow and to ourselves to provide a product worthy of review. We can do that by accepting the family trees in existence only after our personal research of the actual records. " Willis A story of John Nickolas Emerick, a millionaire fur-trader, spread through all branches of the Emerick family tree during the early years of this century. The wealth of the man seemed to grow with each re-telling of the story; he was credited with ownership of vast properties in the states of Pennsylvania and New York, and also in Germany. As told by the family, he was a successful businessman who gave a young man without means an opportunity to improve his position and so we lost a fortune. We all knew that John Jacob Astor built the American Fur Company with Emerick money. The legend of the great fortune the family had once possessed and lost was told and re-told by various family members. Often the only relationship between individuals who claimed a share of this great fortune was a sharing of the family name of Emerick or one of its spelling variations. No chronicle of any family with the name of Emerick would be complete without some mention of the 1928 Emerick - Astor law suit and the attention to that suit shown by newspapers throughout the nation. The legend had many variations, some of them follow: "THE FUR TRADER" John Nickolas Emerick, born in Germany, came to the United States in 1770 and became wealthy in the fur trade. In 1783 John Jacob Astor was on his way to the United States when he met John Nickolas Emerick on board ship. The ship became hard locked by ice in Chesapeake Bay; stalled for two months, the two men were united by their common German language; spent the time together and Emerick made Astor a partner. In addition to the fur business, Emerick owned land in Pennsylvania and New York and a fleet of sailing ships, known as The Seven Sails Line. Emerick never married, and became angry with his family. He died in 1816, leaving his property in trust for the descendants of his brothers Valentine and Christopher. His partner, John Jacob Astor was to manage the trust and after 75 years distribute it to the heirs of Valentine and Christopher. As a young man, J. F. Thompson worked as a law clerk in New York City. While there, the Trinity Church was to be sold, and he heard the judge say this land cannot be sold, it is owned by John Nickolas Emerick or his heirs and no one else can transfer title. After he had became a successful lawyer, Mr. Thompson started his search for the Emerick heirs. GENEALOGY: John Nickolas Emerick was the son of Conrad. (Family Tradition) Konrad Nickels Emmerich, born 1700 at Hessen Darmstadt, Germany had four sons: Kristuffle (Christopher) Emmerich, born 1728: Valentine Emmerich, born 11 May 1732: John Nickolas Emmerich, born 1739: Andreas (Andrew) Emmerich, born 1744: (From the files of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County, Pennsylvania.) ~~ John Emerick, an Inn Keeper in Darmstadt, Germany had ten children, one was John Daniel. John Daniel Emerick had four children; John Nickolas, born 3 April 1749: John Christopher, born 5 October 1751: John Valentine, born 7 March, 1753: Marie Mary, born 15 February 1755. (John Jacob Astor, An Unwritten Chapter by C. I. Hoy. In a later chapter, he names the sister as "Ann", who later married David Ashley.) ~~ John Nickolas Emerick, the fur trader and partner of Astor, was born at Hannon in Hess Castle, Germany, November. 5, 1779. He was the youngest of four brothers, the others were Christopher, Valentine, and Andrew. They came to Pennsylvania between 1718 and 1738. (St. Louis Globe Democrat, 6 September 1927. Note: This claims he was born 41 years after his older brothers came to Pennsylvania!) ~~ John Nicholas Emerick was a native of Hagerstown, Maryland. (San Francisco Examiner, 21 November 1927.) ~~ BUSINESS ACTIVITIES: John Nickolas Emerick came from a very prominent family. (John Jacob Astor, An Unwritten Story, by C. I. Hoy.) ~~ John Nickolas Emerick was a successful and rich fur trader who met a poor boy, John Jacob Astor, on board ship and gave him a job, later making him a one-third partner. (New York Times, 28 May 1928.) ~~ John Nickolas Emerick was a partner of John Jacob Astor in the fur business for thirty years and was stationed at Berlin, Germany. (Geographical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania by Floyd, printed in 1911.) ~~ The Emrich family was supposedly related to the well known Dutch fur trader of New York, John Jacob Astor. (The Hub Of The Tulpehocken by Earl W. Ibauch, printed in 1976.) ~~ John Nickolas Emerick came to New York while a young man and was associated with Capt. Ambrose and Stephen Gerard and finally with young Jacob Astor. Emerick never married. He died in 1816 at the age of 37. (Newspaper clipping of 1928 from Kendallville, Indiana.) ~~ In 1784, he had been in America for 14 years and was firmly established in the Fur Trading Business. He met John Jacob Astor on board ship on a return trip from selling furs in the London markets. (John Jacob Astor, An Unwritten Chapter, by C. I. Hoy.) ~~ HIS DEATH: Emerick died on a fur-laden vessel in 1817, and was buried at sea off the Labrador coast. (The Public Ledger, a newspaper of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 26 May 1928.) ~~ He died at 37 years of age, aboard one of his fur trading vessels in the Delaware River near Philadelphia in 1816. He was buried at Germantown, Pa. (St. Louis Globe Democrat, St. Louis, Missouri, 6 September 1927.) ~~ He died December 16, 1816 at the home of Baltheus Emerick, 234 High Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was buried in the Lutheran Cemetery. (John Jacob Astor, An Unwritten Chapter, by C. I. Hoy.) ~~ He was lost at sea in the sinking of a trading vessel off Labrador. (Washington D. C. Post, 7 December 1928.) ~~ He died 14 October 1814, at sea, aboard ship, and was brought to Philadelphia and buried in the churchyard of Gloria Del (Old Swedes) Church. (A Philadelphia morning newspaper, 16 November 1956.) ~~ THE WILL AND OTHER DOCUMENTS: Lawyer Thompson saw the Will of John Nickolas Emerick in 1903. It was written in German and he had it translated. (From family correspondence.) ~~ The will was found in an old leather chest in the attic of a house in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It was witnessed by Daniel Lord, personal physician of John Jacob Astor. (From an unknown Wisconsin newspaper.) ~~ Documents were found by workmen in an old horse-hide trunk in an old house torn down near Camden, New Jersey. (Unknown Maryland newspaper, printed in 1929, and reporting on a lawsuit filed by descendants of Ann Emerick Ashley, reportedly a sister of John Nickolas Emerick.) ~~ The will was probated in Surrogates Court in New York County in 1849. The only copy was removed by a German lawyer. Records were destroyed when the court building burned in 1872. (An unknown Philadelphia Newspaper, 16 Nov1956.) ~~ Documents were left with a pastor of "Old Swede's Church" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (An unknown Philadelphia Newspaper, of uncertain date, possibly 1963, reporting on an attempt to get a court order to recover the documents. Also in this action was a claim that the body of John Nickolas Emerick was in a vault in this church.) ~~ In 1902, a representative of the Astor Estate had sought out an Emerick descendant, told him of 39 million dollars in trust and had gone with him to a Philadelphia churchyard where they opened Emerick's tomb and extracted a black box which contained an envelope, which the Astor Estate representative then appropriated. Unfortunately the Emerick heir did not open the envelope, and gave up the task of locating his relatives. (A biography of the Astor's; title is unknown.) ~~ The will of John Nicholas Emmerich of Amsterdam, Holland has been found in St. Louis and is being held in chancery to allow for filing of claims. Emmerich is said to have helped John Jacob Astor found his fur trading business. (Cumberland Daily News, 3 April 1929, Cumberland, Maryland.) PROPERTY: There are as many stories about the property owned by John Nickolas Emerick. Lawyer Thompson reported it as: Thirty five acres of land in what later became the heart of New York City: 314 Acres of land in Germantown, Pennsylvania: 4000 Acres of coal land in Berks County, Pennsylvania: 16 Blocks of real estate in the city of Baltimore, Maryland: Property in Washington, D. C.: A vast sum of money sent from Germany in 1903 for the heirs of the John Nickolas Emerick estate. ~~ The John Nickolas Emerick estate was in landed property in Germany held by tenants under a 99 year lease. A total value of $118,000,000 is to be shared by about 500 heirs. (The Malvern Leader, Malvern Iowa, 28 May 1903.) ~~ Franklin Square, Philadelphia is part of the property involved. Some of the money is in banks at Bremen, Germany. (Geographical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Floyd, printed in 1911.) ~~ The estate is composed of personal property amounting to approximately $146,000,000, of which about $78,000,000 is in currency, and the remainder in stocks and bonds, and of real estate in the heart of South Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Berks Counties Pennsylvania. (St. Louis Globe Democrat, St. Louis, Missouri, 6 September 1927.) Compiled by Willis L. Brown proceed to: THE FACTS Last Update: 18May1998 Email: D.L.Emrick Return to: Emmerich Emerich Emerick Emrick Emrich

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