Life aboard the vessel “Fame” was anything but easy for the Palantine refugees looking to start a new life in a new world. Life in Germany (Palatinate) in the 1700s was difficult enough (famine, war, religious persecution) to spur people to seek a better life elsewhere. But the journey to America was, in and of itself, not without certain peril. Ten ships departed London on June 14, 1710 carrying 3,000 displaced Palantines to their new home. The trip would take six months. A total of 480 passengers did not survive the journey. Another 250 people died during their five month quarantine on Governor’s Island. All in all, nearly one quarter of the passengers on this voyage never lived to see the promise of America.
One of the survivor families listed on the passenger manifest was Johann Valentin Bressler, his wife Mary, and their five children. Their Palantine name was actually Pressler but the Germanic P and B sounded very similar so the mistake on the ship’s manifest was understandable. Johann and Mary settled in the Hudson Bay area but, in time, the descendants of the Pressler line began to branch out into other locations. Some in Maryland, some in North Carolina, and others even further south.
Along the way, some descendants chose to alter their last name from Pressler to Presley. It was to this line that a king was born. The king of Rock and Roll. Johann Valentin Bressler was the eighth great grandfather of Elvis Aaron Presley. He was also the eighth great grandfather of my niece’s husband. They also share 7th and 6th great grandfathers. It was just five generations ago that their ancestral lines separated as they stem from two different brothers of that generation.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And be sure to take a look at our 2022 TedXEustis talk on YouTube.