The Families of Adam Keith

Part 1 - Höchst to Rotterdam

From Hőchst to Rotterdam, a distance of about 280 miles by land and water

Travel from Hőchst to Worth äm Main, by wagon or foot, a distance of about 9 miles. In or near Worth äm Main a large wooden raft would have been built or purchased that would carry a group of immigrants via the Main and Rhine Rivers to Rotterdam.  At Rotterdam the rafts would have been sold to shipbuilders for raw material.


From Worth äm Main by water to Rotterdam, a distance of about 271 miles. The trip would have taken 4 to 6 weeks due to the required layovers at toll stops, also called customs houses, at least 10 in all.  A toll stop, administered by the local “powers at be”, would involve determining the destination of the travelers, the payment of a tax or toll for the traveler’s use of that particular stretch of the river, and re-provisioning at no small cost. The dispatch with which these steps occurred depended on the time of arrival during the day/night and, most notably, the work ethic, or lack thereof, of the local toll workers.

In Rotterdam, Balzer would have contacted a shipping company with a ship destined for Philadelphia.  The negotiations with the shipping company representative would revolve primarily around the payment for the voyage.  The trip payment involved three methods, in order of “popularity/necessity”; [1] agree to a contract of “manumission or redemptioner”, more polite terms meaning indentured servitude or slavery, [2] pay approximately 1/3 of the voyage amount with the remainder to be paid on arrival or, [3] pay the entire amount due. By 1750, the cost, or “freight”, of a trip to Philadelphia for each adult has been estimated at 12 pounds, children age 5 of 10, “half freight”, and under 5, free, because they were not expected to live through the trip; for 1750, a monumental sum of money. There was no way Adam or Balzer had that kind of money, so, I’m suspecting alternative 1 was the choice. Balzer, by his current age, would have at least been a smith apprentice and therefore his odds of finding a person to pay his voyage price would have been very good.