Friday, November 14, 2014

Hardships of Palatine Immigrants

Even my own family on both sides had their hardships both here in America and across the seas everything from crusades, wars, famine, plagues, and genocide attempts to wipe the family out.

The winter of 1708-09 was long and bitterly cold in the Rhineland. During the bleak evenings, as they sat huddled around their fire, many families rehearsed again and again the pros and cons of quitting their familiar homes forever.  By the beginning of aril the land was in winter's frozen grip, and most of the vines, on which depended their livelihood, had been killed.  Yet this was only the last straw.  When the kindern were asleep between the dowendecks. Parents talked sadly about the past trying years and the hopeless prospect for the future.  Ever since the war began in 1702 they had known nothing but hardship and misery.  The some aged grandfather would counter that it was worse when he was young, During the Thirty Years War.  Why in that war almost one third of the population of Germany had perished.  If only they could be free of the burdensome taxes and the cruel religious persecutions!  Grandfather would remind them that away back in 1677, William Penn had visit the Palatinate and had extolled Pennsylvania in America as a province where princes and priestcraft were unknown and a man could be his own master. 

First they would have to procure scows for the long journey down the Rhine.  Then they could take only what possessions they could carry; and they would be dependent on charity for most of their provisions along the way.   None of them could speak English.  Perhaps they would soon feel at home - Andreas Imberger had heard from an uncle in England that a year ago the British Parliament has passed a naturalization bill granting all protestant immigrant the right to become British subjects.

So the talk went on and on.  Finally, some father sat down to write cousins in the next village - letters to be carried by his eldest son - saying that he had almost made up his mind to leave his home and set out with his family for America - or at least England.  but he could not bear the thought of being forever separated from his kin; would they consider emigrating too?

Then, before an answer had come back, the night of terror arrived.  Families awoke to find their homes and the whole village in flames and the air rent with the shrieks of terrified neighbours.  The strident armies of France's Louis XIV were ruthlessly ravaging all the towns in the Lower Palatinate.  Some families were prepared for escape with bundles already tied and assigned to those who would carry the, and with plans made to meet friends in the dark at specific places.

It was in April 1709 that the first parties of refugees began to move on the great river.  (some, tragically, perished of exposure, hunger - or fright-before their friends embarked.)  The weather was still inclement.  What with local restrictions, and fee and tolls to be paid, the trip took four to six tedious weeks.  By the autumn of 109, more than ten thousand persons had made this first leg of the journey to freedom.

A few Dutch ship-owners were commissioned by the Duke of Marlborough - whom Queen Anne had made responsible for transporting the displaced Germans to England - to carry some of the refugees.  The others were brought in troopships used normally to carry the Army of the Duke, That famous ancestor of Sir Winston Churchill.

Andreas Imberger (my ancestor) on my mother's side soled from Rotterdam on May 23 and was probably at Blackheath.  But just like in America and other places, not all Londoners welcomed the Germans.  the poor resented the influx of immigrants and complained that they were taking the food out of their mouths as bread was scare after seven years of war.

From there this family immigrated to Ireland on August 8, 1709 and there were hundreds of wagons to carry women, children and belongings but the men were expected to walk about one hundred and twenty miles.  The voyage took about twenty four hours when they would find themselves in Dublin in the sea of Gaelic.

The Imbergers also known as the Embury were the original Palatine Families that settled on The Southwell Estate.

Need Help With Your Genealogy

To Their Heirs Forever
Pages 32 - 39, 41
Camden Valley, New York to Upper Canada
Author Eula C. Lapp