Bernhard Zentmeyer and his family sailed to Philadelphia aboard a British merchantman call the Phoenix. Inquiries were made regarding this vessel to maritime museums in England, Holland, and Nova Scotia, as well as over a score of maritime sources here in the United States, but this information has proven to be scarce. The volume Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Vol. III, by Strassburger and Hinke, records eight arrivals of a Phoenix in Philadelphia between the years 1743 and 1754. Because of the timing of the arrivals, the size of the vessels, and the different captains, it is clear from the record there were actually two different ships called the Phoenix; and to make matters worse, an English slave-trader called the Phoenix operated between the coast of Africa and the Caribbean during this same period. However, the timing of the slave-trader's voyages demands a third distinct vessel.
Here is the announcement of the Phoenix' arrival in the Philadelphia Gazette dated 30 November 1752. The Passenger List from the Phoenix, which actually docked on 22 November 1752, is recorded on pages 507, 508, and 509 of Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Vol. I. Talk about six degrees of separation . . . I have worked with a John McCoy on this project, and he turns out to be a descendant of Johann Georg Bachhofen, from the same Phoenix voyage as our Zentmeyers. Another passenger, Martin Zehenbauer, spelled his name Zehntbauer here in America. Among Martin Zehntbauer's descendants is John Zehntbauer, who co-founded Jantzen Swimwear in 1910, and built the Swimming Pavilion at Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, where my daughter swam. A quick check of the message boards at Ancestry.com reveals messages from descendants of Conrad Strader, Johann Heinrich Schaff, Peter Antle, George Christopher Bauman, Peter Dick, Joseph Infeld, John Peter Frambes, and John Andreas Weiler, all co-passengers with our Zentmeyer family. A small world indeed.
The passenger lists reflected only the names of adult males. Strassburger and Hinke calculated that on average, the total number of passengers on a given voyage was 2.5 times the number recorded on the lists. This means the Phoenix carried approximately 375 immigrants, plus crew. I asked the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia (the predominant authority) what a ship of that capacity and time period might have looked like, and they sent me this image. (true to period renderings, the ship is portrayed twice, from two different angles, in the same painting) Another source provided this image, remarkably similar.
What fate befell the various Phoenix? Again, the record is far from clear, as ships were sometimes re-named if ownership was transferred, but the book Shipwrecks in America by Robert Marx provides some tantalizing clues. (as the slave-trader Phoenix was based in Bristol, and Dominica is a Caribbean island, the 1766 shipwreck was likely the slave-trader Phoenix.)