History of the Palatine Immigration to Pennsylvania
as written by Daniel Rupp, 1876
At different periods, various causes and diverse motives induced Germans to abandon their Vaterland. Since 1606, millions have left their homes, the dearest spots on earth, whither the heart always turns. Religious persecution, political oppression drove thousands to Pennsylvania – to the asylum from the harrassed and depressed sons and daughters of the relics of the Reformation, whither William Penn himself invited the persecuted of every creed and religious opinion.
From 1682 to 1776, Pennsylvania was the central point of emigration from Germany, France and Switzerland. Penn’s liberal views, and illiberal course of the government of New York toward the Germans, induced many to come to this Province
The period from 1702 – 1727 marks an era in the early German emigration. Between forty and fifty thousand left their native country “their hearths where soft affections dwell.” The unparalleled ravages and desolations by the troops of Louis XIV under Turenne, were the stern prelude to bloody persecutions. To escape the dreadful sufferings awaiting them, German and other Protestants emigrated to the English colonies in America.
In 1705, a number of German Reformed residing between Wolfenbuttel and Halberstadt, fled to Neuwied, a town of Rhenish Prussia, where they remained some time, and then went to Holland – there embarked, in 1707, for New York. Their frail ship was, by reason of adverse winds, carried into the Delaware bay. Determined, however, to reach the place for which they were destined – to have a home among the Dutch, they took the overland route from Philadelphia to New York. On entering the fertile, charming valley in New Jersey, which is drained by the meandering Musconctcong, the Passaic and their tributaries, and having reached a goodly land, they resolve to remain in what is now known as the German Valley of Morrison county. From this point, the Germans have spread into Somerset, Bergan and Essex couties.
At Elizabethtown, where the first English settlement was made in New Jersey, 1664, there were many Germans prior to 1730. There was also a German settlement at a place known as Hall Mill, which is some thiry miles from Philadelphia.
In 1708 and 1709, thirty three thousand, on an invitation of Queen Anne, left their homes in the Rhine country for London, where some twelve or thirteen thousand arrived in the summer of 1708. There were books and papers dispersed in the Palatinate, with the Queen’s picture on the books, and the title page in letters of gold, which, on that account, were called, ‘The Golden Book’, to encourage the Palatines to come to England, in order to be sent to the Carolinas, or to other of Her Majesty’s colonies, to be settle there. These were, for some time, in a destitute condition – wholly depending upon the charity of the inhabitants of the English metropolis.
In the fall of 1709, one hundred and fifty families, consisting of six hundred and fifty Palatines, were transported, under the tutelar auspices of Christian De Grafferied and Ludwig Michell, natives of Switzerland, to North Carolina. As in all new countries, the Palatines were exposed to trials, privations and hardships incident to border life. One hundred of them were massacred by the Tuskarora Indians, Sept 22, 1707. The descendants of these Germans reside in different parts of the State.
At the time these Palatines left England for North Carolina, the Rev. Joshua Kockerhal, with a small band of his persecuted Lutheran brethren, embarked at London 1708, for New York, where they arrived in December, and shortly therafter he, with his little flock, settled on some lands up the Hudson river, which they had received from the crown of England. Two thousand one hundred acres, granted a patent Dec. 18, 1709. The Queen also bestowed upon Kocherthal five hundred acres as a glebe (transcriber’s note: glebe is a plot of land belonging or yielding profit to an English parish church) for the Lutheran church. Newburg is the place of this settlement.
In the meantime, while those were transported to North Carolina, and to New York, three thousand six hundred Germans were transfered to Ireland; seated upon unimproved lands in the county of Limerick, near Arbela and Adair; others, in the town of Rathkeale, where their descendants still reside, and are known to this day, as German Palatines, preserving their true German character for industry, thrift and honorable dealing. Persons who have lately visited them say, “They are the most wealthy and prosperous farmers in the county of Limerick.” They still speak the German language.
Of the large number that came to England, in 1708 and 1709, seven thousand, after having suffered great privations, returned, half naked and in despondency, to their native country. Ten thousand died for want of sustenance, medical attendance, and from other causes. Some perished on ships. The survivors were transported to English colonies in America. Several thousand had embarked for the Silly Islands, a group south-west of England; but never reached their intended destination.
Ten sails of vessels were freighted with upwards of four thousand Germans for New York. They departed the 25th December, 1709 and after a six months’ tedious voyage reached New York in June, 1710. On the inward passage, and immediately on landing, seventeen hundred died. The survivors were encamped in tents, the had brought with them from England, on Nutting, now Governor’s Island. Here they remained til late in autumn, when about fourteen hundred were removed, one hundred miles up the Hudson river, to Livingston Manor. The widowed women, sickly men and orphaned children remained in New York. The orphans were apprenticed by Governor Hunter, to citizens of New York and of New Jersey.
Thee settled on Hudson river were under indenture to serve Queen Anne as grateful subjects, to manufacture tar and raise hemp, in order to repay the expenses of their transport and cost of subsistence, to the amount of ten thousand pounds sterling, which had been advanced by parliamentary grant. A supply of naval stores from this arrangement, had been confidently anticipated. The experiment proved a complete failure. There was mismanagement.
The Germans, being unjustly oppressed, became dissatisfied both with their treatment, and with their situation. Governor Hunter resorted to violent measures to secure obedience to his demands. In this, too, he failed. One hundred and fifty families, to escape the certainty of famishing, left, in the autumn of 1712, for Schoharie Valley, some sixty miles, northwest of Livingston Manor. They had no open road, no horses to carry or haul their luggage – this they loaded on roughly constructed sleds, and did tug those themselves, through a three feet deep snow, which greatly obstructed their progress – their way was through an unbroken forest, where and when the wind was howling its hibernal dirge through leaf-stripped trees, amid falling snow. It took them three full weeks. Having reached Schoharie, they made improvements upon the lands Queen Anne had granted them. Here they remained about ten years, when owing to some defect in their titles, they were deprived of both lands and improvements. In the spring of 1723, thirty-three families removed and settled in Pennsylvania, in Tulpehocken, some fifteen miles west of Reading. A few years afterward, others followed them.
The other dissatisfied Germans at Schoharie, who did to choose to follow their friends to Pennsylvania sought for and found a future home on the frontier in Mohawk Valley.
Queen Anne, who well understood the policy of England, to retain her own subjects at home, encouraged the emigration of Germans, sent some of those whom she had invited in 1708 and 1709, to Virginia; settled them above the falls of the Rappahannock, in Spotsylvania county, where they commenced a town, called Germanna. The locality was unpropitious. They moved some miles further up the river where they soon drove well. From this settlement they spread into several counties in Virginia, and into North Carolina.
Because of the relentless persecution and oppression in Switzerland, a large body of defenseless Mennonites fled from the Cantons of Zurich; of Bern and Schaffhausen, about the year 1672, and took up their abode in Alsace, above Strasbourg, on the Rhine, where they remained till they emigrated, 1708, to London, thence to Pennsylvania. They lived some time at German town, and in the vicinity of Philadelphia. In 1712, they purchases a large tract of land from Penn’s agents in Pequae, then Chester, now Lancaster county. Here this small colony erected some huts or long cabins, to serve temporarily as shelters.
Here the time and again persecuted and oppressed Swiss, separated from friends and much that makes life agreeable, hoped to unmolested begin anew. Here, surrounded on all sides by severed clans of Indians, they located in the gloomy silent shades of a virgin forest, whose undisturbed solitude was yet uncheered by the murmurs of the honey bee, or the twitterings of the swallow, those never-failing attendants upon the woodman’s axe. For the hum and warblings of those, they had not only the shout and song of the tawny sons of the forest, but also the nocturnal howlings of the over watchful dog baying at the sheeny queen of the night, as she moves stately on, reflecting her burrowed light. By way of variety, their ears were nightly greeted by the shrill, startling whoop of the owl, from some stridulous branches overhanging their cabins, and bending to the breeze of evening, or by the sinister croakings of some doleful night songsters in the continuous thickets.
This Swiss settlement formed the nucleus, or centre of a rapidly increasing Swiss, French and German population, in the Eden of Pennsylvania.
Hereafter, the influent accession from the European continent steadily increased, so much so, as to excite attention, and create no small degree of alarm of the “fearful of the day”.
Scarcely had the Mennonites commenced making their lands arable, when they sent a commissioner, Martin Kendig, to Germany and to Switzerland, to induce others to come to Pennsylvania. He was successful. There were large accessions to this new colony in 1711 and 1717 and a few years later. So great was the influx at this time of Swiss and German immigrants, as to call forth, as already stated, public attention, especially of those in office.
Governor Keith, says the record, “observed to the Board – the Governor’s council – that great numbers of foreigners from Germany, strangers to our language and constitution, having lately been imported into this Province, daily dispensed themselves immediatly after landing, without producing certificates from whence they came or what they are, and, as they seemed to have first landed in Britain, and afterwards to have left without any license from government, or as far as they know, so, in the same manner, they behaved here, without making the least application to him or any of the magistrates. That, as this practice might be of very dangerous consequence, since, by the same method, any number of foreigners, from any nation whatever, enemies as well as friends, might throw themselves upon us.” This was in 1717.
In 1719, Jonathan Dickinson remarked; “We are daily expecting ships from London, which bring over Palatines, in number about six or seven thousand. We had a parcel that came over about five years ago, who purchased land about sixty miles west of Philadelphia, and proved quiet and industrious.”
After 1716, Germans, a few French and Dutch, began to penetrate the forest or wilderness – some twenty, thirty, forty, others from sixty to seventy miles, west and north from the metropolis. Large German settlements had sprung up at different points within the present limits of Montgomery and Berks counties. At Goshenhoppen there was a German Reformed church, organized as early as 1717. Some Mennonites coming from the Netherlands, settled along the Pakilmomink (Perkioming) and Schkipeck (Skippack) a few years later.
The Germans were principally farmers. They depended more upon themselves than upon others. They wielded the mattock, the axe and the maul, and by the power of brawny arms rooted up the grubs, removed saplings, felled the majestic oaks, laid low the towering hickory; prostrated, where they grew, the walnut, poplar, chestnut – cleaved such as suited the purpose, into rails for fences – persevered untiringly until the forest was changed into arable field. They were those of whom Governor Thomas said, 1738: ‘This Province has been for some years the asylum of the distressed Protestants of the Palatinate, and other parts of Germany; and I believe, it may truthfully he said, that the present flourishing condition of it is in a great measure owing to the industry of those people; it is not altogether the fertility of the soil, but the number and industry of the people, that makes a country flourish.’
England understood well the true policy to increase the number of the people in her American colonies – she retained at home her own subjects, encourage the emigration of Germans; by this England was the gainer, without an diminution of her inhabitants.
Unreasonable as it may seen, it was this class of Germans, that were so much feared, “whose numbers from Germany at this rate, would soon produce a German colony here, and perhaps such a one as Britain once received from Saxony in the fifth century.”
In 1719, some twenty families of Selwartzenau Taufer arrived at Philadelphia. Some settle in German town, others located on the Skippack, in Oley.
About 1728 and 1729, the Germans crossed the Susquehanna, located within the present limits of York and Adams county, and made improvements under discouraging circumstances.
The tide of emigration from the continent of Europe was strong. Various influences were brought to bear upon the increase of the influx. In Pennsylvania, the Newlander, tools in the hands of shipowners, merchants and importers, contributed much to induce Germans to leave their homes. There were, besides these, another class, who were active in prevailing upon the inhabitants of Germany to abandon their country for the new world. These two classes, Newlander and speculators, resorted to diverse arts in order to effect their purposes. They gave these, whom they desired to abandon their homes, assurances, endorsed by solemn promises, that the Poet’s Arcadia had at last been found in America. To possess this, in Louisiana, on the banks of the Mississippi, several thousands left Germany in 1715 and 1717, under the leadership of the notorious John Law, who instead of bringing them immediately on their arrival in America, to the promised Eden, on the banks of the Father of the Western Water, landed them on the pontines (transcriber’s note: land bridge) of Biloxi near the Mobile. Here they were exposed, without protection against their many foes, for five years. Not one of them entered the promised paradise. Two thousand were consigned to the grave. The pallid survivors – about three hundred, finally seated on the banks of the Mississippi, 1722, some thirty or forty miles above New Orleans. Law had, through his agents, engaged twelve thousand Germans and Swiss. The sad fate of those of Biloxi was spread abroad, which deterred other from coming to participate in the promised blessings of the Elesyan fields, or to possess the Eldorado.
The three hundred on the Mississippi were very poor for some years. They had been reduced to the most extreme poverty. From these poor but honorable Germans, have spring says Gayarre, some of the most respectable citizens of Louisiana, and some of the wealthiest sugar planters in the State. Their descendants forgot the German language, and have adopted the French; but the name of many clearly indicate the blood coursing in their veins; nevertheless more than one name has been so frenchified as to appear of Gallic parentage. The coast, so poor and beggarly at first, and once known as the German coast, has since become the producer and the receptacle of such wealth, so as to be now know by the appropriate name of Coast of Gold.
In the spring of 1734, some Lutherans, known in history as Saltzburgers, from Saltzburg, a city of Upper Austria, arrived in Georgia. In Europe, they too had been the victims of bloody persecution. They had been driven from their country and their homes, on account of their unswerving attachment to the principles of the Gospel.
This devotedly pious band of Christians was accompanied by their attached pastors, the Rev’d John Martin Boltzius and Israel Christian Gronau, and an excellent schoolmaster, Christian Ortman. The Saltzburgers located in Effingham county and styled their first settlement Ebenezer, to express their unfeigned gratitude to the Lord, who had been to them a storing rock, a house of defence, to save them.
This German colony received accessions from time to time until they reached, prior to 1745, several hundred families. There were also many Germans residing in Savannah; besides some forty of fifty Moravians in the same state under the pastoral care for the Rev. David Nitschliman.
The Moravians made no permanent settlement in Georgia. When the Spanish War broke out, they removed, almost to a man, to the State of Pennsylvania, because it was contrary to their religious faith to take up arms in any cause.
In 1738, some arrived in Pennsylvania and located at Bethlehem. In 1740, those who had remained, left Georgia and joined their brethren in Pennsylvania. This, the mission among the Indians in Georgia, after a promising beginning, was at once suspended.
Before the Moravians came to Pennsylvania, a respectable number of Schwenkfelders and arrived, settling in Bucks and Philadelphia county, now Montgomery, Berks and Lehigh. The Schwenkfelders had intended, before leaving their homes in Europe, to embark for Georgia. They however, changed their minds and established themselves in the asylum for the oppressed, Pennsylvania.
In 1732, Monsieur Jean Pierre Pury of Neuchatel, Switzerland visited Carolina. Being encouraged by the government both of England and Carolina, he undertook to settle a colony of Swiss there. In 1732 one hundred and seventy persons were transported. These were soon followed by others. In a short time the colony consisted of three hundred persons. They settled on the north bank of the Savannah, built a town called Purysburgh, about thirty-six miles above the mouth of the river. The colony still continued to increase. In 1734, Pury brought two hundred and seventy persons more from Switzerland. All those were brought from Switzerland at the expense of Pury and several of his friends, who advanced him money for that purpose, he having spent the greatest part of his fortune in the prosecution of that design before he could bring it to execution. Thee were now nearly six hundred souls in this settlement.
This was done in pursuance of a scheme, proposed by Mr. Pury to the Assembly of South Carolina; his scheme was to propel the southern frontier of Carolina with brave and laborious people, such as the Swiss are known to be. The assembly highly approved of this scheme; to assist him in the execution of it, they passed an act, August 20, 1731, which secured to him a reward of £400, upon his bringing over to Carolina a hundred effective men. In this act the Assembly promised also to find provisions, tools, etc, for three hundred persons for one year. Purysburgh in 1747, contained more than one hundred houses tolerably well built.
In Colleton county, on the north bank of North Ediston river, 12 miles from its mouth, stands Wilton, or New London, consisting of 80 houses built by Swiss under the direction of Zuberbhuler, with leave from the Assembly. This town proved detrimental to Purysburgh, being in the heart of the county and near the capital; it drew people thither, who did not care to go to Purysburgh.
From 1740-1755, a great many Palatines were sent to South Carolina, They settled Orangeburg, Cougaree and Wateree. In 1765, upwards of six hundred from the Palatine and Swabia were sent over from London and had a township of land set apart for them.
In 1739, a number of Lutherans and German Reformed purchased a tract of land from General Waldo, and laid out the town Waldoborough, in Lincoln county, Maine. Bremen, a village in the same county, and Frankfort, in Waldo county, were undoubtedly laid out, or settled by Germans, as the names would indicate. During the Spanish and French War, in 1746, Waldoborough was laid in ashes by some Canadian Indians. Some of the inhabitants were massacred, others abducted. Not a few died from the ill-treatment received at the hands of the savages – some made their escape, and were dispersed in Canada. Waldoborough remained in ruins until 1750. In 1751, invited by those in authority, thirty German families, and in 1752, fifteen hundred individuals from Europe, persons of means, settled in Maine.
King George II of Great Britain, held out strong inducements, through very liberal promises, to all who would emigrate into, and settle Nova Scotia, when a considerable body of German, principally Hanoverians, left their country, embarked for America, landed at Chebucto Bay, near Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, where fourteen hundred and fifty-three re-embarked and landed at Marliguish, on the 7th of june, 1753. Here they laid out the flourishing town of Lundenburg. Here they were doomed to experience the same resistance from the natives which the colonists at Halifax had met with, in settling the Peninsula; and the early history of the place contains little else than a constant succession of struggles with the savages in which, notwithstanding the powerful protection they received from the government, they lost many lives. Their attempts at agriculture were therefore restricted within a very narrow compass, and the settlement of the adjoining country was retarded until the French power and influence in Nova Scotia were subdued.
From 1735, settlements in Pennsylvania multiplied rapidly; extended over vast regions, west of the Susquehanna, whither the Scotch-Irish had led the way. The German settlement kept pace with the native.
The Kau-ta-tn-chunk (Kittatiny or Blue Mountain) extending from the Delaware hundreds of miles westwards, was not an insurmountable barrier – that they crossed and laid out farms where shortly afterwards they, their wives and children, were exposed to the torch, hatchet and scalping knife of the savages, and their midnight assault and slaughter. Hundreds fell victims to the relentlessly cruel savage, along the Blue Mountains, south and north of them and along the Susquehanna, as far north as Penn’s Creek, from 1754-1763 and even at a later period. Among the massacred were many Germans – more than 300 in all.
Germans massacred, north of the Blue Mountain, within Monroe county, among other were: Guldin, Hoth or Huth, Bomper, Vanaken, Vanflor, Schnell, Hartman, Hage, Brundich, Hellman, Gonderman, Schleich, Muller, Vandelap, Decker, Van Gondie, Brinker. South and north of the same mountain, within the present limits of Northampton, Carbon and Lehigh – more than one hundred were killed. Among them were: Sohn, Klein, Bittenbender, Roth, Schaffer, Ancers, Nitschman, Senseman, Gattermyer, Fabricuius, Schwigert, Leslie, Presser, Depu.
Along the same mountain, within the limits of Berks, Lebanon and Dauphin county – Reichelsdorfer, Gerhart, Neidung, Klug, or Kluck, Linderman, Schott, Craushar, Zeissloff, Wunch, Dieppel, Henly, Spitler, Nocker, Maurer, Boshar, Fell, Kuhlmer, Lang, Trump, Yager, Sechler, Schetterly, Sauter, Geiger, Ditzler, Franz, Schnebele, Mosser, Fincher, Hubler, Marloff, Wolf, Handsche, Weisser, Miess, Lebenguth, Motz, Noah, Windelblech, Zeuchmacher, etc.
Prior to 1770, the wilderness of Pennsylvania was penetrated beyond the Allegheny Mountains. Settlements were effected within the present bounds of Westmoreland and other eastern counties of this state. A number of German families had located on the Monongahela as far up as Redstone, Brownsville, Fayette county. Here settled the Weismans, Pressers, Vervalsons, Delongs, Jungs, Martins, Shutts, Peters, Schwartz, Hutters, Cackeys, Abrahams, and others (the first Germans in Western Pennsylvania, located in Greene county. These were two brothers, the Eckerleins of Ephrata, who left there and settle in the depths of the wilderness in 1745. Prior to 1754, Wendel Braun, and his two sons, and Frederik Waltser, located four miles west of Uniontown.), whom that devoted minister of the cross, the Rev. John Conrad Bucher, visited in Nov 1768.