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The Palatines.

Many of us have Palatine ancestors. Perhaps the first indicator of this is finding, in the Dominion Census, our family referred to as "German" in origin. In many cases those relatives came from the Palatinate area of Germany.

Actually a Palatine is someone who came from along the Rhine River of South Western Germany.

The Palatinate was a Duchy and the Duke of the Palatinate was Protestant as were many German states at that time. The Palatinate bordered on France, a Catholic country, and the Palatinate and France were almost constantly fighting each other. The Protestant French Huguenots, the Calvinists from the Netherlands and Protestants from Switzerland fled to the Protestant Palatinate because they were persecuted in their own countries.

Why Did The Palatines Leave The Palatinate?

The main reason was that the Palatinate was the centre of deadly conflict between the Protestant German states and Catholic France and, between 1684 and 1713, there was almost continuous warfare. French troops ravaged the Palatinate, destroying cities, burning homes, stealing property, massacring people, destroying crops and laying waste to farms.

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Then, in the winter of 1707-1708, the Palatinate suffered a severe freeze, totally destroying the grape vines and leaving the people without employment and starving. Warned on pain of death not to leave, the Palatines began fleeing down the Rhine to Rotterdam, Holland. One of their leaders, the Rev. Joshua Kockerthal, had been circulating his "Golden Book" through the Palatinate describing Britain's America colonies as a "land of milk and honey."

The British Government, knowing their hardships, encouraged the Palatines to immigrate to London, England, and sent ships to Rotterdam to pick them up. They saw the Palatines as a source of manpower and the British thought was to send the immigrants to New York to work in the tar industry in the upper Hudson Valley. Queen Anne promised them bread until they could produce it themselves.

On Christmas Day 1709, nearly 4,000 Palatines were loaded on ships, but the ships didn't sail for New York until the end of January. Over-crowding, bad water, poor food, and poor sanitation resulted in a cholera and typhus outbreak.

In New York, Governor Hunter had purchased 6,000 acres of land from Robert Livingston's Patent for 400 [pounds sterling] sterling. Here he settled the Palatines in two groups, one on the west side of the Hudson River called West Camp, made up of villages named Elizabethtown, Georgetown and Newtown, and the other group on the east side of the Hudson at East Camp. East Camp covered an area that included the villages of Hunterstown, Queensbury, Annsbury and Haysbury.

The agreement with Britain was that the Palatines were to make enough tar to pay for their passage from England and, once that was done, they would receive 100 acres of land and 40 [pounds sterling] sterling.

The Tar Project was a failure.

The Palatines of West Camp, with the Hudson River between them and New York, were pretty much left to go their own way, so they built their homes and developed farms. At East Camp, however, things were different. The plan was to make tart The problem was that the northern White Pine didn't have much pitch in it and so little tar could be made. The winter of 1710-1711 was another severe winter and the people suffered from poor food and food shortages. Governor Hunter's financial woes caused him to cut back on the Palatine food rations. The Tar Project was a failure. Finally Governor Hunter told the people they were free to fend for themselves and look for other work. Many of them left for Schoharie Creek on the west side of the Hudson River in Mohawk lands. Farms were cleared, homes and churches built and villages created.

Henry Z. Jones Jr. has written four books on the Palatines:

a) The Palatine Families of Ireland 1965.

b) The Palatine Families of New York A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710 2 volumes, Universal City, California, 1985.

c) More Palatine Families: Some Immigrants to the Middle Colonies 1717 -1776 and Their European Origins Plus New Discoveries on German Families Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710. Universal City, California, 1991.

d) Even More Palatine Families: 18th Century Immigrants to the American Colonies and their German, Swiss and Austrian Origins, 3 volumes, Rockport, Maine, 2002.

These books are for sale from Hank Jones or can be found in your Public Library. You may reach Hank Jones at both: www.HankJones.com and www.ancestordetective.com/speakers/ jones.htm.

Editor's Note: The following is an extract from a talk given by Joan Lucas UE, Kawartha Branch Genealogist and UELAC Genealogists' Support, on 18 February 2007.

By A. Joan Lucas UE, Kawartha Branch Genealogist
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Author:Lucas, A. Joan
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Words:798
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