The following article will be presented in three parts to define the historical background of Palatines, the history of the Palatinate and genealogical research relating to the Palatinate. - Editor.
"What is a Palatine?"
That elusive word is hard to define, for historic reasons. Indeed, sometimes it seems to mean almost any German or Swiss or Alsatian. Strictly, the quick and easy answer is: "Somebody from the Palatinate." But this is inadequate and doesn't correspond to actual usage; it leads to the inevitable question: "Where is the Palatinate?"
In the 1700s this refers to a widely scattered area near the Rhine River in present-day southwestern Germany with its capital at Heidelberg and later at Mannheim, when the Palatinate as defined above was ruled by a Pfalzgraf or Count Palatine, one of the seven, then eight (1654), later nine (1692) electors of the Holy Roman Emperor; thus the Kurpfalz or Electoral Palatinate. But then the definition of the Palatinate changes.
After the Napoleonic Confederation of the Rhine (1806-1813) and the Congress of Vienna (1815), the historic Palatinate east of the Rhine became incorporated into the state of Baden. An area west of the Rhine, with its capital at Speyer, governed by Bavaria (capital: Munich), became known as the Rheinpfalz, Rhine Palatinate, rheinische Pfalz, Rhenish Palatinate, Bayerische Pfalz, or Bavarian Palatinate. This is the Palatinate of the ]9th century, the home of many emigrants listed in those useful 1850, 1860, or 1870 U.S. censuses which give birthplaces prior to the unification of Germany in 1871 as the foreign land of "Rhinefalls" or "Rinefels" for Rheinpfalz or "Rinebier" or "Byrum" or "Bion" for (Rhein) Bayern, those puzzling place names often sent in as queries to genealogical columns in this and other periodicals (rather than "Germany" or "Prussia").
Let's examine proper usage of "Palatinate" and "Palatine." The German words are Pfalz, Pfäzflzer, and pfälzisch. The Palatinate (accent on lat; rhymes with "refrigerate") is the territory. A Palatine (rhymes with "pal of mine") is a person. The adjective form is also Palatine. Sample sentences of correct usage (read aloud -to practice pronunciation): Palatines came from the Palatinate to London in 1709; many of these Palatines were sent to Queen Anne's Palatine settlements in upstate New York in 1710; other Palatines were sent to Ireland; other Palatines elsewhere. Many Palatines came from the Palatinate in the 1720s to 1750s and founded Palatine Pennsylvania German or so-called "Pennsylvania Dutch" (a misnomer) settlements in southeastern Pennsylvania with names such as Mannheim and Heidelberg townships, names of the former capitals of the Palatinate. They spoke a Palatine dialect. A different type of Palatines came from the Bavarian Palatinate in the 1800s for economic, social, and political reasons, mostly via Le Havre, France, and brought their Palatine farming and trade skills to new Palatine settlements or to well-established German settlement areas in the United States, founding such places as Palatine, Illinois.
But many of the 1709-10 group mentioned were not strictly Palatines. According to a contemporary report by Pastor Johann Hermann Broessken of Dreieichenhain, there were 8,569 from the Palatinate (plus 125 from Pfalz-Zweibruecken) out of 15,313 (including 871 journeyman craftsmen, no homeland given), or about 60 percent. The
rest, mostly Protestant (either Lutheran or Reformed), were from Hesse-Darmstadt, counties surrounding Frankfurt, Worms (Catholic), Speyer (Catholic), Alsace, Baden, Nassau, and adjacent territories.
Palatine, even at this early date, becomes a collective word, a generic term for Germans. It is what the English in London and the colonial rulers in New York called all German-speaking people, regardless of origin. And of the 1727-1775 group found in Strassburger & Hinke's Pennsylvania German Pioneers, also lumped together as Palatines, the approximately 68,872 Germans in the colonial time period were probably less than half from the Palatinate, with large contingents from Baden,, Wuerttemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt, Alsace, Switzerland, Nassau, and others from smaller counties, etc. Even if, or, especially if they are listed indiscriminately as "a shipload of Palatines," one must take these other possible origins into consideration. Study the shipmates and near neighbors on the lists. As a rule of thumb, following the Reformed religion in America makes a true Palatine origin more likely for Germans (but Swiss is also possible); Lutheran makes the Palatine origin less likely.
The history of "Palatine" may explain why the word came into use. The first use goes back to Roman times. The mons palatinus or Palatine Hill (from palatium, 'palace') was one of the seven hills of Rome, the traditional site of the first Roman settlement where Romulus is said to have founded the city. During the Roman Empire the hill became the site of the residences of the emperors and of the Temple of Apollo, thus the regal hill or hill of the palace. After Rome burned in 64 A.D., Emperor Nero included the entire Palatine Hill in the grounds of his aurea domus (Golden House). It remained the official residence of emperors-until 235 A.D., when Emperor Alexander Severus died.
The meaning of the word evolved as the Roman Empire grew and influenced other lands. First, people who worked for the Imperial Court of the Roman Emperor were called Palatini or Palatines. Under Constantine the Great (306-337 A.D.) troops stationed at the capital in Rome were also called Palatines. In the Byzantine Empire at Constantinople the administrators of the finances and domains were called Palatines. Members of the entourage of early German kings were called Palatines. Comrades in arms of Charlemagne were called "paladins," the legendary 12 peers or knightly champions attending the Frankish king who was emperor from 800 to 814. (Television viewers once saw an Old-West version of a Paladin, Richard Boone in "Have Gun, Will Travel.")
Counts Palatine were the highest judicial officers (chief justices) and prime ministers of the Carolingian realm dating from the reign of Emperor Otto I of Germany (912-973), King of Saxony; they represented the emperor's law in the hereditary duchies of Bavaria, Carinthia, Lorraine, Saxony and Swabia. The emperor moved from one Pfalz or castle to another: Aachen, Cologne (Koeln), Eger, Forchheim, Frankfurt am Main, Gelnhausen, Goslar, lngelheim, Mainz, Nimwegen, Nuremberg, Speyer, Tribur, and Bad Wimpfen; Saxon German kings between Magdeburg and Quedlinburg. The Rhenish Palatinate later developed from the old Duchy of Lorraine, moving from Aachen and the Lower (northern) Rhine more to the central and Upper (southern) Rhine. In 1093 the Count Palatine of the Rhine is first mentioned. In 1156 Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa) of the Hohenstaufen family conferred the Latin title of comes palatinus or Count Palatine (Pfalzgraf) on his half-brother Conrad, who controlled extensive territories on the Rhine near Lorsch, Speyer and Worms. The Pfalztoll castle on an island in the Rhine near Kaub dates from the 14th century.
By extension, any ruler with special powers granted by the emperor came to be called a Count Palatine (the count's power emanating from the palace). Counts Palatine ruled the Pfalz bei Rhein or Palatinate in the Rhine/Neckar area with its historic capital at Heidelberg (held since 1214 by the Wittelsbach lines of Dukes of Bavaria), and the oberpfalz or Upper Palatinate, the former Nordgau north of the Danube River in northern Bavaria surrounding Regensburg (= Ratisbon) with its historic capital at Neumarkt and later Amberg (ruled since the Treaty of Pavia in 1329 by the line of Count Palatine Rudolf of the Upper Palatinate). After Emperor Charles IV authored the Golden Bull (1356), which officially named the seven electors, the Rhine Palatinate formally became the Kurpfalz or Electoral Palatinate (though they had in fact been electors since the end of the 12th century).
Other countries also had Counts Palatine, too. In England, the See of Durham (church lands), the Earldom of Chester, and the Duchy of Lancaster were ruled by Counts Palatine. In colonial America, Maryland, under George Calvert; Maine under Sir Ferdinando Gorges; and the Carolinas were considered palatinates. Hungary and Poland each had a Count Palatine. The proprietors of each of these colonies had been granted special prerogatives by the respective kings, in effect "from the palace."
But by far the predominant use of the term, and the one used by genealogists, is for Germans.
The Palatinate was the land of the Elector, a member of the Wittelsbach family of Bavaria. In 1410 the four sons of Elector Palatine Rupert III divided the Palatinate into four parts,-
|1)||the Electoral Palatinate, capital Heidelberg,|
|2)||the Upper Palatinate, capital Amberg,|
In 1556 the Elector Palatine became Lutheran. From 1561 to 1583 the Electors Palatine became Calvinists (Reformed) and in 1563 Calvinism became the official religion, attracting Calvinists and Huguenot refugees. The Palatinate of the 1600s included the side lines of Pfalz-Zweibruecken, Pfalz-Simmern, and Pfaiz-Brikenfeld. In 1608 the Elector Palatine was a leader of the Protestant Union. In 1619/1620 the Elector Palatine, Frederick V, lost in the struggle over the throne of Bohemia (Battle of the White Mountain, 8 November 1620). In 1623 the Duchy of Bavaria received the Upper Palatinate (the area around Regensburg, which was from. 1663 to 1806 the seat of the Imperial Diet), and Duke Maxmilian of Bavaria took over the role of Elector.
The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) was disastrous; from 1621 to 1648 there was no ruler; many places in the Electoral Palatinate were so badly destroyed by the plundering armies of Austria, Bavaria, France, Lorraine, Spain, and Sweden that they had to be totally rebuilt. After the war there was a considerable influx of settlers from Switzerland and followers of the Swiss Reformer Zwingli; also some Anabaptists. But in 1685 Palatinate became Catholic (as the Pfaiz-Simmern line died out and Pfaiz-Neuberg, now Catholic, took over), and there was a realignment of churches in 1687, each church served simultaneously by Catholic (preferred) and Reformed Clergy.
The fertile and rich lands of the Electoral Palatinate were destroyed by order of King Louis XIV (the "Sun King") of France ("Burn the Palatinate!"), under General Melac in 1689, in the War of the Palatine Succession whereby France claimed the Palatinate. In 1705 Protestants and Catholics both nominally received equal rights, the Catholics receiving 5/7 of the churches, the Protestants 2/7. A knowledge of history and changes in religion are essential when seeking ancestors in this area.
In 1720-the capital of the Electoral Palatinate was removed from Heidelberg to Mannheim.
When Charles Theodore of the Palatinate-Sulzbach branch inherited the Palatinate in 1777, it was united (or rather reunited) with Bavaria. In 1797 the left (western) part of the Palatinate (the Rhenish Palatinate) became French and subject to French law. In one of the most significant acts of Napoleon from the standpoint of genealogists, on I May 1798 civil registration was introduced in the Palatinate west of the Rhine, and it has been in effect ever since. In 1801 all the German-speaking territory left (west) of the Rhine became French. In 1803 the right (eastern) part of the Palatinate became a part of Baden. Then in 1815 the Palatinate became consolidated and Bavarian again, with its capital in Speyer, and it remained so until the occupation of Germany after World War 11.
In 1945 the new Land or state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate) with its capital at Mainz was founded as one of 10 in the Allied occupied territory, the formerly Prussian Rhine Province and the formerly Bavarian Palatinate being joined together in an artificial creation. Since 1948 it has been one of the 10 states in the new Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland).
With respect to German-American genealogy in the 18th century, the Electoral Palatinate, the ruler of which was one of the lay Electors of the Holy Roman Emperor (thus quite influential), is for practical purposes the only one that pertains, as its location along the Rhine enabled transportation to a seaport. This factor, plus the numerous wars, famines, pestilences, economic problems, and religious difficulties caused or cumulatively led to emigration to eastern Europe or colonial America.
The Oberpfalz or Upper Palatinate in northern Bavaria around Regensburg provided virtually no colonial settlers in America. If the rarely-used term obere Pfalz is used, it refers to the part of the Electoral Palatinate east of the Rhine near Heidelberg. In the 19th century the Bavarian Palatinate area west of the Rhine is meant.
As mentioned in earlier parts of this discussion, about 60 percent of the 1710 "Palatines" to New York were actually from the Palatinate, and in the colonial period less than half.
A peak number, possibly 5,000, emigrated from the Rhenish Palatinate to America in 1816-1817 after a severe winter. In 1832, when the national-liberal Hambach festival was held, the number of Palatine emigrants was approximately 8,000, and from then on it grew. Some sample years are given in one set of statistics:
|9,122 in 1837||6,147 in 1840||4,689 in 1843|
|10,237 in 1846||13,762 in 1849||18,956 in 1852|
|21,897 in 1855||8,407 in 1858||5,428 in 1861 and|
|3,544 in 1864|
In another set, from 1841 to 1845 there were 13,358 emigrants from the Bavarian Palatinate;
|1890-1894 average||215 per 100,000 population|
|1895-1899||44 per 100,000|
The most important archives for genealogists in the (formerly Bavarian) Palatinate are located in Speyer:
|Federal Republic of Germany (B.R.D.),|
|Zentralarchiv der Evangelischen Kirche der Pfalz|
|Grosse Himmelsgasse 6|
|Federal Republic of Germany,|
for Protestant (Lutheran or Reformed)church books; and
|Kleine Pfaffengasse 16|
|Federal Republic of Germany,|
|Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv I|
|Arcisstrasse 12, Postfach 200507|
|D-8000 Muenchen/Munich 2|
|Federal Republic of Germany;|
|Noerdliche Hilda-Promenade 2|
|Federal Republic of Germany, respectively.|
|lnstitut fuer pfaelzische Geschichte und Volkskunde|
|Benzinoring 6, Postfach 2860|
|Federal Republic of Germany.|
|Arbeitsgemeinschaft fuer Pfaelzisch-Rheinische Familienkunde e.V.|
|Rottstrasse 17 (Stadtarchiv)|
|D-6700 Ludwigshafen am Rhein|
|Federal Republic of Germany|
|Palatines to America|
|Capital University Box 101|
|Columbus, Ohio 43209-1294|
|P. 0. Box 834i|
|Universal City, CA 91608|
-110-The emigrants from southwestern Germany in the ]8th century who left their aces in archives have been well documented in a two-decade series of books-by Werner Hacker. The main ones are Kurpfaelzische Auswanderer vom unteren Neckar: rechtsrheinische Gebiete derKurpfalz for the Palatinate east of the Rhine (2,456 emigrations); Auswanderungen aus Baden und dem Breisgau for Baden-Baden, Baden-Duriach, and Austrian possessions in the Breisgau (11,666 emigrations); and Auswanderungen aus Rheinpfalz und Saarland im 18. Jahrhundert for the Rhenish Palatinate, Baden west of the Rhine, the Duchy of Zweibruecken, and various other territories (16,834 emigrations). Not all emigrations were to America, but a significant percentage were. Hacker's books are available from:
|Friedrich R. Wollmershaeuser|
|Federal Republic of Germany (new address)|
|RR 7, Box 306, Kern Road|
|Marietta, OH 45750-9437|
Note: The lnstitut fuer Pfaelzische Geschichte und Volkskunde and Ernest Thode, addresses above, have extensive emigrant/immigrant ancestor card files. If you have identified your immigrant ancestors send a 3x5 card for each to them (with three International Postal Reply Coupons to the former and a SASE to the latter). On it, give to the extent known, name, spouse, vital statistics, immigration information, ship, occupation and religion. Also, write for a form to Mrs. Bonnie Everhart, 52 South Ave., Gettysburg, PA 17325 and enter your ancestor in our own Immigrant Ancestor Register.
We thank Antique Week and Mr. Thode for permission to reprint this article, which appeared as a three-part series several months ago. Antique Week is a weekly antique, auction and collectors' newspaper, 40 pp, 12x17" format. Its three-page "Genealogy Week" section alone is worth the subscription price ($12.45/ 1/2 year; $24.45/year, less 3.00/year if mailed as a monthly bundle). A typical issue includes articles such as his, smaller articles, genealogical news items, letters from readers, helpful replies from the genealogy staff and other readers, ads and queries. For a free sample issue (include $1 .00 for postage), write to Antique Week, P. 0. Box 90, Knightstown, IN 46148.