Saturday, July 7, 2012


I attended a National Genealogical Society conference when I first became interested in genealogy.  Where, I don’t remember.  While wandering around the exhibitors’ hall, I found a booth sponsored by the Palatines to America.  My first reaction was that I had no Palatine ancestors, so the organization could not be for me.  However, when I explained that my father’s parents came from Mulhouse in Alsace, they assured me that the organization was for anyone who had German speaking ancestors.  With that information I joined Palatines to America, and its New York Chapter.

While that chapter has a number of members who are descended from the Palatines who came to New York with the Lutheran minister, Joshua Kocherthal in the first decade of the 18th century, there are many like myself who have no Palatines ancestors.  But, we do have German speaking ancestors, and that is our common bond. 

It has been several years now that I have been involved with the organization.  I was asked to edit the newsletter of the NY Chapter in 2005, and continue in that role today.  For the past two years, I served as president of the Chapter, until I was asked to become the national president of Palatines to America.  For the next two years, I will work to promote this organization as the place to be for those with German speaking ancestors.  I hope that those of you who are not yet members will make the step and join us. 


1 comment:

  1. I realize that this blog post has aged (mellowed?) somewhat, but it brings to mind a question I've been pondering.

    What defines a "Palatine"? As I mentioned to you recently, I descend from a man who might have emigrated in 1764 (if it's the same guy) to Ulster County. Is he a "Palatine"?

    * Does the definition depend solely on geography? If so, then he's in, as are Rhine Valley emigrants boarding planes today, clutching their American visas in hand.

    * Does the time period define the "Palatine"? If so, what time period? My ancestor may have missed the boat on that one.

    * Does the reason for the emigration apply? Jones points out that it's not religious persecution as so many people think of the 1708-1709ers, but the desire to get away from the destruction and violence of constant warfare, high taxes levied to pay for those wars, and that awful winter of 1708/1709. If my guy did come in 1764, the Seven Years War had just ended; perhaps it acted as a push for his emigration. Was that a good reason to go to North America? Or if he merely came to join family or friends who came before, is that an acceptable reason?

    * Does simply having his name mentioned at all in one of Jones' "Palatine. . . " books equal an automatic in?

    * Or is it a loose, self-definition? My relative undoubtedly considered himself a German among other Germans, though they were heavily Dutch-flavored ones, but I don't know if those people back then thought of themselves as "Palatines".

    [My father's side is even more closely German. My GGPs, GPs, and five more grand aunts and uncles came in the 1890s to Cleveland. They may have come from Congress Poland when it was part of the Russian Empire, but they always insisted that they were GERMANS. I'm pretty sure that they aren't "Palatines" by any definition.]

    Thank you, Julia